MP FOR Salisbury John Glen has defended the proposed one per cent pay rise for NHS staff.
Mr Glen said the pandemic had hit the economy hard, so savings needed to be made – which only allowed a modest increase for NHS heroes.
But a Labour city councillor has insisted NHS staff and key workers “desparately need” a “tangible” increase in income.
It comes after Sir Keir Starmer said the starting point for an NHS pay rise should be 2.1 per cent, but declined to express his backing for the 12.5 per cent raise demanded by the Royal College of Nurses.
Asked at his local election campaign launch, the Labour leader said: “The rise for the NHS front line should be above inflation, a real rise. I think the starting point should be the 2.1% that was promised and was of course budgeted for.”
What is happening with NHS pay?
The size of any NHS pay rise is ultimately decided by the Government based on recommendations from the NHS Pay Review Body.
The Department of Health and Social Care has made a recommendation for a 1 per cent pay increase for NHS staff this year (although this would not include GPs or dentists, and would mainly apply to hospital staff).
The NHS Pay Review Body will make its own recommendations in late Spring, when they will be considered by the Government.
‘Significant damage caused to the economy’
John Glen MP says we should not forget that “over one million NHS staff will continue to benefit from multi-year pay deals already agreed”.
He told the Journal: “We have all been overwhelmed with the dedication and sacrifice that NHS workers have displayed during the pandemic.
“But coronavirus has caused significant damage to the economy and in the medium-term we will have to bring down the deficit.”
The Office for Budget Responsibility estimates that government borrowing will be £355bn for 2020-21 – after the 2008 financial crisis, it was around £158bn.
Mr Glen added: “We also have to remember that many people have put in tremendous efforts to keep the country going over the past year, including supermarket workers, delivery drivers, care workers, teachers, bank staff, and many other key workers, not only those working in the NHS.
“Indeed, all but the lowest paid workers across the public sector will have their pay frozen in 2021-22.
“I know that the Independent Pay Review Bodies will make recommendations in late spring, when they will be considered by the government and it is right that we do not pre-empt these recommendations.”
‘Pay simply cannot rise as much as they deserve’
Danny Kruger, MP for Devizes, said that while “it would not be appropriate” to pre-empt the government’s final decision, he hopes that: “When finances allow, proper recognition can be given to all those who have worked under great pressure throughout the pandemic.”
He added: “The pay review comes at a time of intense financial pressure, and pay for public service workers simply cannot rise as much as they deserve.
“It must also be remembered that more than one million NHS staff will continue to benefit from multi-year pay deals agreed with trade unions, including a pay rise of more than 12 per cent for newly qualified nurses, with the average nurse pay now £34,000 per year. Junior doctors’ pay has been increased by 8.2 per cent.”
‘Tangible increase desperately needed’
Tom Corbin, Labour councillor for Bemerton, says a “tangible wage increase is desperately needed”, and has warned of the mental health effects of the pandemic on NHS staff.
He said: “A decade of austerity has seen continued cuts to NHS staff wages. Boris Johnson said last year about valuing NHS staff, yet the treasury has only awarded 1 per cent as they wish to tighten their belt, this government has spent £355bn for the current financial year, the highest amount outside of wartime, including £37bn on the track and trace system which has been defective.
“What is so desperately needed by these key workers is a tangible wage increase where they can treat themselves to quality family time that has been missed over the past twelve months.
“NHS staff don’t get to claim expenses; but will suffer a deficit in morale through fatigue of long shifts and could detrimentally have PTSD and other mental health issues for the foreseeable future.
“Boris has a short memory as he himself had Covid and needed the skill of those NHS workers to get better, so must be able to see their value outweighs 1 per cent.”
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