The Labour leader, Keir Starmer, has called for NHS staff to get a bigger pay rise after the government decided on 1% next year, despite Boris Johnson’s effusive praise for their efforts during the pandemic.
Nurses and doctors accused ministers of not valuing health service personnel highly enough after the recommendation that more than 1 million staff should receive only a small increase.
Health unions have called the suggested rise a “kick in the teeth” for staff who had given “absolutely everything” during the pandemic.
NHS experts say it has been left with too little money to properly tackle the massive backlog of surgery postponed during the pandemic’s first and second waves or to expand mental health care for the significantly increased number of people with psychological problems.But ministers have defended the proposal at a time when the economy is under “huge pressure”.
The pay recommendation was made by the Department of Health in a submission to the independent panel that advises on NHS salaries.
Sir Keir said it would amount to a cut in real-terms, tweeting: “You can’t rebuild a country by cutting nurses’ pay.”
The Royal College of Nursing’s general secretary, Dame Donna Kinnair, said it would result in an increase of just £3.50 a week in take-home pay for an experienced nurse.
She said: “This is pitiful and bitterly disappointing. The government is dangerously out of touch with nursing staff, NHS workers and the public.
“Nobody would think that is fair in the middle of a pandemic and it will do nothing to prevent the exodus from nursing.”
She called for a 12.5% increase to take into account “the years we haven’t had a pay increase”.
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, who chairs the British Medical Association council, said it came as a “kick in the teeth” after a decade in which doctors had experienced real-terms pay cuts of up to 30%.
“This is a total dereliction of the government’s moral duty and obligation to a workforce that is keeping the NHS on its feet and patients alive,” he said.
Unison head of health Sara Gorton said: “A 1% pay rise is the worst kind of insult the government could give health workers who’ve given their absolute everything over the past year.
Analysis by William Roaches from Newspresslive.com