It would be lovely to wave a magic wand, Sunak tells unions

The Prime Minister has said he is not able to “wave a magic wand” to resolve the bitter dispute over pay among NHS staff. Rishi Sunak said that giving pay rises to

striking staff – including ambulance workers and nurses – would lead to money being taken away from “elsewhere in the NHS budget”. But he insisted that the Government would

continue to “engage in dialogue with the unions”. Earlier, the Prime Minister was accused of being “missing in action” during the dispute, with one union pointing to an

“abdication of leadership”. Unite said that Health Secretary Steve Barclay “does not have authority” to negotiate pay deals, as it urged Mr Sunak to call a meeting with

union leaders. It comes as thousands of ambulance workers are staging the third strike in five weeks in the bitter dispute over pay. Up to 15,000 Unison ambulance

workers are on picket lines and have been joined by up to 5,000 of their NHS colleagues at two hospital trusts in Liverpool. Further strikes are planned in the coming weeks

by nurses and other NHS workers. Pressed on whether there would be a point where he would have to sit down and negotiate with unions, the Prime Minister told ITV News:

“Taking a step back, of course it would be lovely to be able to wave a magic wand and just give everyone what they were demanding when it came to pay. “But my job as Prime

Minister is to make the right decisions for the country, and they are, more often than not, not easy decisions. “But that’s my job, and that’s what I will always do in this

job, and… when you think about this, how would we pay for these things? Where’s the money going to come from?