Annaliese Dodds refused seven times to say whether Labour supports nurses striking over Christmas. A frustrated TalkTV host Kevin O’Sullivan took the senior Labour MP to task over the dithering response. At one point, the irate host snapped: “Annaliese, it’s an easy question. Yes or no?”
The tense exchange comes as nurses across England, Wales and Northern Ireland announced their biggest strike in NHS history next month in a dispute over pay.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) announced 12-hour walkouts on the 15 and 20 December.
The Government swiftly rejected the nurses’ demands for a pay rise.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the demands by the RCN, which amounted to a 19 percent or £10billion pay rise, were “simply unaffordable”.
However, Labour was more reluctant to either support or criticise the nurses for the disruption, prompting the awkward exchange on TalkTV.
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When Mr O’Sullivan first asked whether Labour supported the nurses going on strike, Ms Dodds said: “Obviously no-one wants to see industrial action and we have a horrendous situation for patients already.
“It is going to be very very disruptive, but no one can blame nurses.”
Mr O’Sullivan asked the question again, which the shadow minister for women again dodged.
This prompted the TalkTV host to fire back: “Yes or no, Anneliese? It’s a pretty easy question.”
She added: “We have not seen the nurses balloting for industrial action in their history.
“There is a Conservative problem here and they have got to get a grip on this, not just for nurses but patients as well.”
Sir Keir Starmer similarly refused to say whether he backed the strikes, simply claiming that nurses have been driven to strike by the Government.
Nurses will still provide emergency care during the strike days, but routine services will be hit
RCN general secretary Pat Cullen said: “Ministers have chosen strike action.
“Nursing staff have had enough of being taken for granted, enough of low pay and unsafe staffing levels, enough of not being able to give our patients the care they deserve.”