Yet, while this pre-emptive strike will, presumably, have to be ratified in next month’s Budget when Chancellor Philip Hammond will be expected to set out a new pay policy, and much else, it does leave several unanswered questions.
Assuming nurses, doctors and NHS professionals receive a salary increase after years of restraint, will new money be made available – or will hospitals, and other health trusts, be expected to find the money out of existing funds?
Mr Hunt can’t expect these organisations to plan for the future without offering clarity on his part. And then there’s the staff shortage afflicting the NHS, and ongoing fears that Brexit will make it harder to recruit sufficient health professionals from overseas. What is the Health Secretary doing to rectify this?
While he’s right to say that the Government’s pay restraint policy has made it possible to recruit additional staff since 2010, the plain fact of the matter is that Ministers have been slow to acknowledge the sacrifices made by front-line workers, particularly in the health, education and police sectors, at a time when policy-makers, and the public, have been expecting ever more from them.