Unions use NHS reforms to 'have a go at Government', says Lansley

Health Secretary accuses doctors' and nurses' leaders of hijacking the medical profession

Relations between the Government and health professionals sank to a new low after Andrew Lansley accused them of opposing his NHS reforms because they were upset about cuts to their pay and pensions.

Union leaders reacted furiously to the Health Secretary's claim that they wanted "to have a go" at the Government and his suggestion that they were not addressing his NHS shake-up on its merits. Mr Lansley is under fresh pressure after the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) and Royal College of Midwives (RCM) joined the British Medical Association in calling on the Coalition to drop its NHS and Social Care Bill.

Mr Lansley told the BBC the legislation was essential in order to give nurses and doctors clinical leadership. He said: "[The RCN] used to be a professional association that was working with us on professional issues and will carry on doing that, but now the trade union aspect of the Royal College of Nursing has come to the fore, they want to have a go at the Government... about things like pay and pensions." He added: "It's a purely political operation."

Mr Lansley claimed the RCN and RCM supported the principles of the Bill. "What they are actually unhappy about is pay, pensions and jobs. I complete understand that. But if there were no Bill the same issues would have to be addressed. We inherited a deficit, we are having to manage the NHS within limited increases, but actually next year the NHS budget is going to go up by 2.8 per cent."

Mr Lansley denied suggestions that his decision to allow hospitals to raise 49 per cent of their income from private patients was an issue, as hospitals had no limit at the moment. "You have to see the political nature of this. The RCN does not like private activity," he said. But Dr Peter Carter, general-secretary of the RCN, rejected Mr Lansley's claims, saying: "We are disappointed that the Secretary of State would suggest that nurses and healthcare assistants would put self interest before that of patients."

"Nurses want to provide the highest possible standards of patient care and it is at the heart of everything they do. However, members up and down the country are telling us this Bill is seriously destabilising the NHS. Equally, we know tens of thousands of posts are being lost throughout the NHS, which is putting patient care in jeopardy and that there is now a fundamental imbalance between competition and collaboration within the NHS."

Dr Carter said carrying on with the reforms at a time when the NHS must find £20bn in efficiency savings was "quite simply, the wrong thing to do".

Andy Burnham, the Shadow Health Secretary, said last night: "It is time to put the NHS first. The Government must listen to patients and NHS staff and put this Bill out of its misery."

Dromey failed to declare £28,000 union earnings

A Labour MP apologised to the Commons yesterday for failing to declare £28,000 of earnings from his trade union work.

Jack Dromey, the Shadow Housing Minister, was criticised by the Standards and Privileges Committee for a serious breach of Westminster rules. Mr Dromey, who is married to the deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman, carried on working part-time for Unite for nearly six months after he was elected MP for Birmingham Erdington. He received £28,000 for the work which he failed to include in the register of members' interests. He also failed to declare an interest when speaking in two parliamentary debates.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Joe Cocker performing on the Stravinski hall stage during the Montreux Jazz Festival, in Montreux, Switzerland in 2002
musicHe 'turned my song into an anthem', says former Beatle
News
Clarke Carlisle
sport
Sport
footballStoke City vs Chelsea match report
Arts and Entertainment
theatreThe US stars who've taken to UK panto, from Hasselhoff to Hall
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
News
newsIt was due to be auctioned off for charity
News
Coca-Cola has become one of the largest companies in the world to push staff towards switching off their voicemails, in a move intended to streamline operations and boost productivity
peopleCoca-Cola staff urged to switch it off to boost productivity
Environment
Sir David Attenborough
environment... as well as a plant and a spider
Voices
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Austen Lloyd: Regulatory / Compliance / Exeter

    Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: Exeter - An excellent opportunity for a Solici...

    Ashdown Group: IT Support Technician - 12 Month Fixed Term - Shrewsbury

    £17000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Helpdesk Support Technician - 12 ...

    The Jenrick Group: Maintenance Planner

    £28000 - £32000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Maintenance...

    The Jenrick Group: World Wide PLC Service Engineer

    £30000 - £38000 per annum + pesion + holidays: The Jenrick Group: World Wide S...

    Day In a Page

    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there