Awkward moment Tory minister asked whether barristers or nurses are 'more important'

Awkward moment Tory minister asked whether barristers or nurses are 'more important'
Moment Tory minister asked whether barristers or nurses are more important

A Tory minister was asked whether barristers or nurses are more important today and it went badly.

Speaking to LBC's Nick Ferrari, Maria Caulfield was asked why the government had offered nurses a 4 per cent pay rise, but had made a 15 per cent deal with barristers amid a fresh round of strikes.

Caulfield said barristers hadn't had a pay rise "for a number of years" while nurses got a 3 per cent pay rise last year.

Ferrari said the 15 per cent figure was still "a surprise" and asked: "Who is more important in life do you imagine a barrister or a nurse?"

"Well it depends if you're a criminal facing prosecution, your barrister's probably pretty important to you," Caulfield replied.

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"If I'm fighting for life I think I'll probably go for a nurse rather than a barrister but do go on minister," Ferrari replied.

Caulfield said "absolutely" and said she was "conflicted" on the issue because she is a nurse.

She said nurses do "deserve a pay rise" but added "we have to be able to afford it too".

It comes as nurses in England and ambulance staff in England and Wales have coordinated action for the first time in an ongoing row about pay and working conditions.

Staff from both services will strike on Monday, and nurses will also strike on Tuesday.

Nurses are calling for a 19 per cent pay rise but have indicated they are open to negotiate on this figure.

Pat Cullen, the general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), said she had written to prime minister Rishi Sunak urging him to “resolve this impasse”, saying it was pointless devoting more funding to the NHS without proper staffing levels.

“The record money that’s going into the health service is certainly not addressing the crisis within the nursing workforce,” she told ITV’s Good Morning Britain. “And he will only resolve the issues within the health service if he resolves the issues within nursing.

“It’s a false economy, putting money into short-term projects and short-term measures instead of actually looking at a more strategic long-term plan for the health service.”

Meanwhile, in October last year barristers ended strike action after accepting a 15 per cent pay deal.

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