A UNION boss has suggested the public would support NHS strikes even if patients die.
Unite’s Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe said people will back walkouts even if “maximum disruption might lead to harm or even death”.
He later insisted he had misheard the question.
Nurses have voted to take industrial action after ministers refused to accept their demands for a 17 per cent pay rise.
During a video meeting this month, which has been seen by UK Times, Mr Jarrett-Thorpe, Unite’s health official, was asked: “Do you think the public will support striking, given the idea that maximum disruption might lead to harm or even death?”
Mr Jarrett-Thorpe responded: “Well, yes. We did a survey back in July, just before the pay review body recommendation.
“And 58 per cent of the people that were surveyed said they’d support NHS workers taking industrial action if they got below nine per cent pay rise.”
Tory MP Brendan Clarke-Smith said: “Somebody ought to have yelled ‘NURSE!’ when he said it.
“Unite is playing politics with people’s lives.”
Unite said: “Mr Jarrett-Thorpe did not hear the last part of the question put to him.
“He does not believe that the public would support NHS strikes that could cause people harm or put their lives at risk.
Nor would he ever advocate for any strike where that could happen.”
FESTIVE travel plans are in chaos as thousands of civil servants including Border Force officials confirmed a strike next month.
Staff from the Home Office, Transport and Environment departments will also walk out over pay disputes that will affect passport control in the pre-Christmas period.
Meanwhile, the Association of School and College Leaders have said thousands of headteachers will hold a consultative ballot on strike action.