NHS strikes: Extra £180m 'doesn't begin' to address pressures in Wales, finance minister says

The Finance Minister said she is hoping for more money as a result of any pay deal struck between the UK Government and health unions in England. Credit: PA Images/ITV Wales

Extra funding from the UK Government "doesn't even begin" to address NHS pressures in Wales, according to the Finance Minister Rebecca Evans.

Wales will receive an additional £180m over the next two years as a result of the Chancellor's Spring Budget.

£23m of that is for revenue spending next year, which includes wages, and £15m is for capital spending, which is used for infrastructure such as building schools and hospitals.

The Welsh Government is not obliged to spend it in the same way as the UK Government and has not yet said where it will direct the money.

When asked whether it would commit to spending it on the NHS, Ms Evans instead made calls for more funding.

Jeremy Hunt announced an expansion of access to childcare and tax breaks to businesses and wealthy pensioners. Credit: PA Images

"The additional £23m is such a small amount of money it doesn't even begin to start to address pressures within the health service, which is why we want the UK Government to provide additional funding for health," Ms Evans said.

"We are waiting now to hear as to how the UK Government will be resolving the pay issues across the border.

"We don't know yet if there will be new money, the Prime Minister has said that they won't reveal that until those negotiations have come to a close.

"But that makes it much more difficult for us here in Wales in the sense that we don't have the full picture when we're entering into our own negotiations.

"If there is new money, public sector pay is our number one priority."

Welsh Ambulance staff went on strike earlier this year over their pay and conditions.

The Health Minister has previously made that commitment, assuring that any offer for NHS staff in England that results in funding for Wales will be passed on to NHS staff in Wales.

Most unions in England have suspended further strikes by ambulance and other NHS workers and will recommend acceptance of a new pay offer to NHS workers.

The UK Government has offered health workers including nurses, paramedics, physiotherapists, porters and cleaners, a one-off payment worth 6% of their salary for this financial year.

Around half of the Welsh ambulance workforce was due to go on strike over pay and conditions on Monday, but GMB and Unite called the action off on Friday to continue negotiations.

A spokesperson for GMB said they are now close to reaching a deal with the Welsh Government.