Health secretary caught both lying and making up figures about striking NHS workers

Steve Barclay with an NHS worker consultants
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The health secretary Steve Barclay has been caught out by Full Fact – twice – over claims about NHS consultants. It comes as the NHS prepares for more strikes. Full Fact exposed that Barclay not only lied over pensions, but he repeatedly plucked figures seemingly out of thin air as well.

NHS consultants: everybody out

As the Canary‘s Maryam Jameela previously reported, consultants who are British Medical Association (BMA) members took strike action in July over pay. As Jameela wrote, consultants walked out for two days on 20 and 21 July, making this:

only the third time the senior specialist doctors have taken industrial action.

Little wonder they’re striking. As Jameela wrote:

The BMA says take-home pay has fallen by 35% since 2008. The consultants… earn annual salaries of around £88,000-£119,000

So July’s action caused serious disruption – which, as Jameela said, was the point. NHS medical director Stephen Powis said:

This could undoubtedly be the most severe impact we have ever seen in the NHS as a result of industrial action, with routine care virtually at a standstill for 48 hours.

Read on...

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Consultants will not only stop seeing patients themselves, but they won’t be around to provide supervision over the work of junior doctors, which impacts thousands of appointments for patients.

Now, BMA members are set to walk out again on 24 and 25 August. This is because the Tories haven’t budged on pay. As the Guardian reported:

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said a pay offer for consultants of 6% for 2023-24 was “final” and that industrial action was hampering efforts to cut waiting lists.

It’s unsurprising the Tories are shifting the blame for waiting lists onto NHS staff, given record NHS waiting times are actually their fault. Just to continue this manipulative theme, Barclay has been making some interesting statements in the media – which Full Fact has ripped apart:

Lying: all in a day’s work for Barclay

First, on Monday 14 August Barclay claimed on BBC Radio 4‘s Today programme that:

Consultants, when they retire now at 65, will get a tax-free pension of £73,000 a year

This is literally a lie – or a mistake, if you’re a Tory and/or feeling generous. As Full Fact noted:

This is incorrect, as pensions are considered a form of income and are therefore subject to tax rules like other forms of income. This means tax is due on any sum above an individual’s personal allowance.

Then, Barclay has also been bandying around figures over just how much NHS consultants’ pensions are worth a year. He told:

  • BBC Radio 4 Today it was £73,000.
  • The Sunday Times it was “£60,000-plus”.
  • Mail Online £78,000.

Again, Full Fact had to correct this, saying the BMA told it:

it was “misleading” to suggest the figure of £73,000 was typical, as “pensions are highly individual and will depend on factors such as retirement age, working patterns etc.”

The BMA did a spicy Twitter thread on it, too:

Overall, Full Fact noted that:

If an MP makes a false or misleading claim on broadcast media they should take responsibility for ensuring it is appropriately corrected, and make efforts to ensure the correction is publicly available to anyone who might have heard the claim

As of 3pm on Wednesday 16 August, Barclay has not done this – not that anyone should expect him to. Recent Tory governments have perhaps been the most vicious and mendacious in recent memory. Barclay lying and making up figures, to manipulate the public into not supporting striking workers, is par for the course.

Featured image via UK government – Flickr, resized to 1910×1000 under licence CC BY 2.0

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  • Show Comments
    1. Tories lying shock horror we all know that the tories and right wing media will say and do anything to stop the support from the public for striking staff wether its doctors train drivers from making up lies to using scabs to break a picket line

    2. Thee BBC are complicit in the propagation of misinformation. They rarely challenge ministers on the figures they broadcast and they do not facilitate correction by not subjecting ministers claim to the BBC’s own fact checking. This is unacceptable, as ministers come to interviews with carefully crafted statistical claims and listeners have no way of knowing if figures are correct.

    3. I pay you a fee every month to post my views not have them hidden Canary boss
      Health secretary caught both lying and making up figures about striking NHS workers
      Speaking on the BBC R4 Today programme, health secretary Steve Barclay claimed NHS consultants receive tax-free pensions.
      This is incorrect. Pensions for consultants are subject to the same tax rules that apply to all pensioners.
      Some tweets I place on this matter to Barclays

      T—1 Not long now British people to keep listening to Tory M.P. Minister. P.M. C**p next G.E. is fast coming I will ask again Sunak-hunt Barclay when you are going to pay up the wages you already owe the N.H.S staff from 10 years ago of under paying them but not under paying Govt

      T—2-Sunak -Hunt -Barclay the longer you let strikes go on the more voter you will lose next G.E. DO-NOT forget all N.H.S staff voter next G.E. plus the public your Tories are failing now you owe the cash to them NOW from underpaying them while interest rate were low set at 2%

      T-3–Sunak-Hunt -Barclay your time is ending when the public vote NOT just your stupid Tory voter that DO NOT hold their Govt to account like I do for their failing and wrongdoing of trashing our country Brexit voter will also not vote Tories again in the Lancashire area
      To all Tory party members from M.P. Minister. P.M. VOTERS alike.
      What part of the Tory Govt owe the public sector + N.H.S staff back wages for the last 10 years of Underpaying them all while interests rate were LOW 2%.
      The wages increase NOW they are striking for now is, owed them it not new wages deals its backed date pay Tory Govt owe of them over a 10years period Tory Party members kept from them years ago to fund possibly the H.S.2. C**p rail link they wasted their wages increase on keeping rich private business people happy that run the H.S.2 C**p rail building now being stopped by Tory Govt, so they wasted our N.H.S wages funding back them on this H.S.2. .2. C**p just to scrap it NOW why voters.
      I do hope Sunak-Hunt -Barclay would come clean now for screwing our N.H.S staff out of wages increase years ago it was a political decision made the Tory Govt VOTERS.

      Pendle-Colne area of Lancashire our Tory M.P. Andrew Stephenson aided in not giving them a pay rise has he was the H.S.2 rail link Minister of transport under lying Boris rule so he also as question to answer has to why our H.H.S. staff were not paid right years ago while he wasted millions of Taxpayer money on the H.S.2 Tory Scam rail project while he failed our Colne area transport needs he then private meeting with Boris and other Tory minister most have voter to put a stop it the C**p H.S.2 project
      Our Tory Pendle-Colne M.P. is a chief Whip now under Sunak controlling the Tory M.P. way they vote one sided for Tory Govt BAD policy only now.
      Our N.H.S staff in Pendle Colne areas of Lancashire will not forget next G.E. voting time he betrayed them also by wasting their wages increase on the H.S.2 Tory Party Scam rail project H.S.2 that cost billion now and Tory still wasting our taxpayer money on it to day why? Sunak -Hunt-Andrew Stephenson the new Tory Govt whipping boy or puppet if you like for Sunak-Hunt and Tory parties very BAD policy now he tell and instructs them all do as he says Tory M.P and how to vote that effects our lives.

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