“The proposed 1% pay rise is completely unacceptable and a slap-in-the-face to over a million hard working NHS staff members.”Kate Osborne MP
NHS staff were due a pay rise on April 1st, but this spring their pay packets remain unchanged.
NHS staff up and down the country have worked tirelessly in extremely challenging circumstances throughout the pandemic, delivering vital care to many across the country including the Prime Minister himself. The huge backlog of treatment that has built up over the last year, with waiting lists at a 14-year high, means there are still enormous challenges ahead for the NHS.
The proposed 1% pay rise is completely unacceptable and a slap-in-the-face to over a million hard working NHS staff members.
In real terms NHS pay is on average around 15% lower, taking inflation into account, then it was in 2010. Therefore, I wholeheartedly agree with the 14 Health Unions representing 1.3 million health workers in their call for a restorative pay rise of 15%.
NHS staff are present in every constituency up and down the country, providing a fair and decent pay rise would boost local economies and support local businesses in their recovery. It is economic sense.
Many of us applauded NHS staff from our doorsteps for keeping us safe throughout the pandemic. But sadly, clapping on our doorsteps does not put food on the table of those who have suffered 10 years of a real pay cut under Conservative governments. In January, a YouGov poll found that 75% of the British public support at least a 10% pay rise for NHS staff.
This Government must give its NHS staff a restorative pay rise, offering a 15% increase. It would not only be a boost to businesses around the country from extra spending, but it would be a huge benefit to the NHS in the long term making the NHS a more attractive career option as well as helping to retain those already working within it.
Currently, there are an estimated 100 thousand staff vacancies in the NHS right now, it is of the upmost importance that the NHS can recruit and retain existing staff to assist with both the national recovery from the pandemic, and the increasing backlog of treatments postponed to make way for urgent covid treatments.
When the pandemic does end, the work of the NHS will not. NHS staff are burnt out. Exhausted staff will still need to work hard for everyone whose treatment has been delayed. Where I serve as MP in the Jarrow constituency, the South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust in February had 30,099 people on waiting lists for treatment, with 550 of these people having been waiting longer than a year.
Giving NHS staff a 15% pay rise will not only provide a morale boost that is sorely needed, but it will retain existing staff. A significant pay rise would help the NHS to meet these new demands, it would also mean an improvement in the delivery of care.
This Government needs to prioritise the NHS. Time and time again the Tory Government shows nothing but contempt for the NHS. In March, the Prime Minister announced that his government would be investing an estimated £31 billion in the United Kingdom’s nuclear deterrents yet refuses to offer a genuine pay rise for NHS staff. The government’s misplaced priorities are clear. We can not allow the contempt and disregard of our vital NHS staff to continue.
The Prime Minister repeatedly and consistently acts late in implementing lockdowns yet is too quick in awarding £17bn Covid contracts to private companies on failed track and trace and faulty PPE. If they can do this, then there is no reason why cannot offer NHS staff a real and restorative pay rise of 15%.
The Prime Minister and Chancellor must act now and give the NHS the tools it needs to recover, starting with a proper pay rise for its staff.
- Kate Osborne is one of a number of Socialist Campaign Group Labour MPs who writes a monthly column for Labour Outlook, alongside Apsana Begum, Richard Burgon, Ian Lavery, John McDonnell, Bell Ribeiro-Addy, Jon Trickett & Claudia Webbe.