Grant Shapps clashes with Adil Ray over nurses’ pay in strike row

Adil Ray says 'our words have consequences'

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Business and Energy Secretary Grant Shapps faced a grilling on Tuesday’s instalment of Good Morning Britain about thousands of nurses striking in protest over their pay. Shapps shut down host Adil Ray when he was accused of “scoring political points” as they clashed over nurses’ calls for a 19 per cent pay rise. About 10,000 nurses are expected to be part of a mass walkout on Wednesday at a very challenging time of year for the NHS. 

Ray claimed there will be nurses across the country who are struggling to pay their energy bills, telling Shapps “a lot of them are already relying on food banks in their own hospitals”.

The broadcaster asked: “Why won’t our Prime Minister sit down with the union and discuss their pay?”

When Shapps explained ministers are doing that, Ray disagreed with his statement and highlighted how Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Steve Barclay “refused to talk about pay” last week on Good Morning Britain. 

Shapps replied: “I agree with you in principle that nurses do an incredible job and we’ve ensured there are more nurses than there were a year ago and we are increasing the numbers overall.”

“They also had a pay rise,” Shapps added before Ray interjected and asked the minister to speak to union members about the proposed pay rises. 

Shapps reminded ITV viewers nurses were not the only public sector workers to receive a pay increase last year. 

However, a heated Ray said: “We are all just saying, ‘Sit down with us and put an end to these strikes.’

“There are a lot of people saying this is just a political move and actually you think it is politically beneficial to a struggling government and you’re scoring political points here.” 

Shapps clapped back at the Good Morning Britain host, saying: “Look, I don’t agree with you at all here.

“I have absolutely no doubt at all that most people feel like you and I know that our nurses do a phenomenal job and we want to see them paid more.” 

However, he clarified the Royal College of Nursing is asking for a 19 per cent pay rise. 

“Just to be clear, obviously we would like to pay nurses [more], we would like to pay a lot of public workers [more] but we are in a situation post-Covid and with this war going on we have very high inflation,” Shapps stressed.

“What we don’t want to do is end up embedding that inflation so that it carries on going up and up.” 

Co-host Charlotte Hawkins interjected: “But you are spending billions on agency nurses because you are having to pay to fill in the gaps because nurses are leaving the profession.

“So actually you could use that money which is being spent on agency nurses and actually give the nurses a bit of a pay rise instead.” 

Shapps admitted he understood Hawkins’ point, but added: “If we were to say, ‘Hey here is a 19 per cent pay increase’, then of course, quite rightly, very hard-working public sector workers will say, ‘Hey, what about us?’

“That will cost another £28 billion and we will end up in a situation where we are asking people to pay more tax and everybody will be worse off again. 

“So we have to make sure we don’t get into this inflation spiral.” 

The annual UK inflation rate eased to 10.7 per cent in November from 11.1 per cent in October which was the highest since October 1981.

Good Morning Britain continues on weekdays between 6am and 9am on ITV.

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