THE WELSH Government has put new offer to unions representing members of the Welsh NHS which includes a “one off payment”.

Last month, nurses from the Royal College of Nursing and ambulance staff from the GMB took industrial action over pay, conditions, and concerns over patient safety, while Unite members are to go on strike on January 19 and 23.  

Speaking on BBC Radio Wales’ Sunday Supplement, first minister Mark Drakeford confirmed the Welsh Government has offered to sit down with the unions this coming week to negotiate an end to the strikes.

“We put a package of measures together which we think can form the basis of a negotiation,” he said. “It includes an offer of a one off payment in the current financial year.

“What we cannot do – just simply haven't got the money to do – is to raise this year’s offer in a way that gets consolidated in people's pay packets and goes on having to be paid for future years.

“But a lot of work has gone on over the Christmas period. Cabinet has been meeting over Christmas, looking at ways in which in this final quarter of the current financial year we could reorder the spending that we had planned to free up money that would allow us to make a one off payment to people who work in our health service, alongside other measures that our letter sets out.

“That’s a basis for negotiation I hope and we invite to trade union colleagues to come in and be round the table with us next week.”

Following the two days of strikes in December, the RCN said its members were left “frustrated and angry” with “the lack of engagement” from the Welsh Government, and threatened further walkouts in 2023.

Mr Drakeford also acknowledged social care in Wales was in need of “fundamental reform”, adding that the Welsh Government was looking again at introducing a levy, or tax, to pay for social care.

“We did a lot of work on this in the last Senedd term,” said Mr Drakeford.

“Professor [Gerry] Holtham’s idea was a social care levy. It's not quite the same as a tax because it would be money that people would pay in earlier in their lives that would go into a pool that will be held for social care for them at the point of their lives when they need it

“We certainly will be looking at it.

“We did a lot of work on it. It's not without its complexities, again, nobody should think that is a simple solution, but I think it has some attractiveness about it because people would know that the money they are contributing is not being used for today's needs or for general purposes, it is being held in a fund that you will be able to draw on when you need it later in life.”