The UK government insists a pay rise for NHS midwives would lead to the sacking of almost 15,000 nurses.
Speaking as midwives across England staged a four-hour walk-out to protest against Westminster’s decision not to award a 1% pay rise, health secretary Jeremy Hunt re-iterated the government’s position that a salary increase was unaffordable.
“Why is it that we are saying we can’t afford to give 1% on top of the 3% rises that around 55% of NHS staff are getting?” he said.
“And the answer is that we have very clear analysis that if we did that, hospital chief executives would lay off around 4,000 nurses this year and around 10,000 nurses next year.”
He added: “If we did exactly as the pay review body wanted, if we gave a 1% rise to people who are already getting 3%, hospitals would lay off staff and that would be wrong for the NHS”.
From Tuesday, NHS midwives in England will be taking further industrial action by not working any unpaid overtime and taking any breaks they are entitled to.
The Royal College of Midwives will meet with the other unions involved in the action next week, when a decision will be taken on what steps to take next.