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Barclay isn’t coming to talk! Nurses on picket line heckle Health Secretary Steve with jokey rendition of popular Christmas carol… as No10 refuses to budge on tough stance

  • Nurses at Leeds General Hospital today mocked Health Secretary Steve Barclay 
  • Under fire health secretary was due to meet unions today to prevent more strikes
  • READ MORE: Why are nurses on strike? Questions about the action answered 
  • Should nurses get a 19 PER CENT pay rise? Vote here and tell us why… 
  • Have YOU been affected by NHS strikes? Email [email protected]

Striking NHS nurses today mocked Health Secretary Steve Barclay with a jokey rendition of Santa Clause Is Coming To Town while on the picket line.

Around 10,000 medics walked out of hospitals across England and Wales for the second time in a week today in a dispute over pay.

And nurses at Leeds General Hospital soaked up the festive cheer, keeping spirits high while singing ‘Barclay isn’t coming to talk’ to the tune of the popular carol.

The under fire health secretary was due to meet ambulance unions today in a last ditch effort to avoid further chaos when 999 staff go on strike tomorrow. 

Striking nurses at Leeds General Hospital today mocked Health Secretary Steve Barclay with a jokey rendition of Santa Clause Is Coming To Town while on the picket line

The nurses soaked up the festive cheer, keeping spirits high while singing ‘Barclay isn’t coming to talk’ to the tune of the popular carol

READ MORE: What IS the truth about NHS nursing crisis? Fascinating graphs show how crippled sector’s pay has stagnated over past decade, record one-in-ten roles are now vacant and UK is reliant on foreign-trained medics

He is facing calls to resign unless he gets a grip on the crisis, which nurses are threatening could continue for another six months.

The Royal College of Nurses (RCN) today urged Rishi Sunak to do the ‘decent thing’ and negotiate with the union.

The union has organised walk-outs at around a quarter of hospitals and community teams in England, cyanocobalamin japan alongside all trusts in Northern Ireland and all but one health board in Wales.

But the Prime Minister has warned striking workers he will hold out against their ‘unreasonable’ pay demands for months if necessary.  

Footage of nurses striking today show their spirits do not appear to have been dampened, despite the Government not budging on its tough stance.

In the video, the nurses sing: ‘Pretending to be sleeping, who knows when he’s awake?

‘He knows that we’ve been understaffed and we’re working through our break. 

‘You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout, I’m telling you why. Barclay isn’t coming to talk.’

Earlier, Pat Cullen, RCN boss, said: ‘I want to say to the Prime Minister this morning, please step in now and do the decent thing on behalf of every patient and member of the public of this country.

‘But please do the decent thing also for nursing staff – get round the table and start to talk to me on their behalf.

‘That’s the only respectful and decent thing to do, and let’s bring these strikes to a conclusion.’

The RCN has threatened further strikes in January if the Government does not meet its demands for a 19 per cent pay rise for its members, something ministers have said is unaffordable.

However, it has indicated it would accept a lower offer.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps today denied the Government has ‘tried to skimp’ on nurses’ pay demands. 

During the strike today, the NHS ran a bank holiday-style service in many areas as thousands of operations and procedures are cancelled and rescheduled. 

The RCN has still staffed chemotherapy, emergency cancer services, dialysis, critical care units, neonatal and paediatric intensive care, as well as some other services.

NEWCASTLE: Royal College of Nursing (RCN) General Secretary Pat Cullen, centre, joins members of the RCN on the picket line outside the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle today

BIRMINGHAM: Members of the RCN take to the picket line outside the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham this morning

LONDON: Members of the RCN on the picket line outside St Thomas’ Hospital today

Who is Pat Cullen? The ‘taskmaster’ organising NHS’s biggest walkout 

Royal College of Nursing boss Pat Cullen 

READ MORE: The Bob Marley-loving ‘taskmaster’ organising NHS’s biggest ever walkout: Pat Cullen grew up in Northern Ireland during the troubles and has FIVE nursing sisters… as she wields placard on picket line

Meanwhile, nurses on the picket line said they were ‘forced’ to take action.

Outside Aintree University Hospital in Liverpool, a nurse called Nicola, who did not want to give her surname, said she joined the action because working conditions have ‘worsened significantly’.

She said: ‘We have been forced to do this, we have no other option.

‘I didn’t sleep last night making the decision to do this and if I get delegated to go back in I will go back immediately because patient safety is important to me.

‘We can’t continue. There are so many vacancies and working conditions are so bad. We’re not getting new nurses and if we don’t get new nurses, we don’t get more people, we’re not going to improve.

‘We have to do something about that.’

Newly qualified nurse Liz Butler, 50, who was on the picket line outside Aintree University Hospital, said: ‘I’ve been working in A&E since September and I can see the strain on the department, it’s just progressively got worse.

‘The staff and the knowledge there are just unbelievable but they are so stretched and when you get home from work you feel as if you’ve not done your job.’

Ms Butler said she had been a healthcare assistant (HCA) but trained to be a nurse as it was a lifelong dream.

She said: ‘There are days when I do think to myself I should have stayed as a HCA. That’s disheartening.’

She added: ‘I’m in £60,000 worth of debt and in April I have to start paying that back so I don’t know what my wages are going to look like by that time.

‘I live with my husband and between us our household is fine, but I don’t know what things will be like come April.

‘I don’t know how the younger nurses who are single parents do it.’

Britons divided on recent strike action but clear support for nurses, ambulance staff and firefighters 

Britons are divided as to whether they support or oppose recent strike action, a YouGov poll revealed today.

However, when it comes to nurses, ambulance staff, and firefighters,  there was clear support for recent industrial action in the 1,758 people surveyed.

Two thirds support recent strikes by nurses, with just three in ten opposed. 

Support rises to almost nine in ten (87 per cent) in 2019 Labour voters.

It is also the only industry tested where support for strikes is higher among 2019 Conservative voters than opposition 49 per cent compared to 47 per cent.

Staff nurse Lucy Savage, 21, said: ‘We need more money, we need more staff, we need patient safety. We’re overworked and underpaid, the NHS is just a shambles.’

Ms Savage said she qualified as a nurse in September.

She said: ‘There have been I don’t know how many times in the past four weeks when I’ve gone home saying to my mum ‘I’m not being a nurse for the rest of my life if this is the way it’s going to carry on.

‘It’s just so much pressure.’

And Suni George, 45, a team leader who was also on the picket line outside the hospital, said: ‘I have been a nurse for 17 years.

‘The pay we get is the same now. We get a lot of tax so even when the annual income looks like it’s gone up we don’t have more money.

‘We’re more short-staffed now.’

She said there had been support from patients and their families about the strikes.

‘We have discussed it with families and they’ve been really supportive,’ she said.

Shouts of ‘up the nurses’ and beeps of support came from passing vans, black cabs, bikes, buses and cars as nurses stood on a picket line outside St Thomas’ Hospital in London.

Dozens of drivers along the busy Westminster Road honked their horns in a signal of encouragement as the healthcare workers, some with their children alongside them, waved RCN banners.

Other supporters walked round the picket line offering nurses cake and other refreshments.

Nurse Anu Kapur, 35, who was on a picket line outside the hospital, said pay ‘doesn’t match’ the level of work expected of herself and her colleagues, and voiced concerns about staff shortages on patient safety.

‘I believe we should only have to look after one particular patient who is very ill, but we are given two because of staff shortages, and our pay doesn’t match,’ she said.

In other NHS strike news…

NHS bosses today begged Britons to ‘drink sensibly’ over Christmas so the health service doesn’t capitulate during the strikes

A 93-year-old pensioner was left lying on the floor ‘screaming in pain’ while waiting for an ambulance for 25 hours after a fall 

Why are nurses on strike? Which hospitals are affected? Will ambulance services also be limited? All your questions about this week’s action answered 

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