Shadow health secretary vows to battle NHS "pay cartel"
SHADOW Health Secretary Andy Burnham has vowed to defend national pay in the NHS "to the hilt" in a sideswipe at moves to slash the wages of health service staff in Exeter.
The Labour frontbencher criticised his Tory opposite number Jeremy Hunt for remaining silent
on controversial proposals by 20 NHS trusts across the South West to impose longer working hours for staff, and cuts to salary and leave.
The Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust and Devon Partnership NHS Trust are among
those signed up to the South West Pay, Terms and Conditions Consortium, which has been branded a 'cartel' by critics.
Speaking at the Labour conference in Manchester, Mr Burnham secured a roar of approval when
he took a dig at the new Secretary of State.
"It's hard to be a shadow when you're up against the Invisible Man," he joked.
"A month in the job but not a word about thousands of nursing jobs lost. Not one word about
crude rationing, older people left without essential treatment.
"Not a word about moves in the South West to break national pay."
He went on: "For as long as I do this job, I will support frontline staff and defend national
pay in the NHS to the hilt."