NHS Staff Pay 08/03/2021

This week I raised the issue of NHS England staff pay with the UK Government’s Minister for Social Care, who was left to answer urgent questions on this matter in the absence of the Secretary of State.

Health and social care staff across the UK have made incredible sacrifices throughout the course of the pandemic and so the announcement by the UK Government to raise NHS staff pay in England by a mere 1% highlights how out of touch this government is with the public and breaks promises made increase NHS staff pay in England by 2.1%.

In contrast, health and social care staff in Scotland have already received a £500 one-off ‘thank you’ payment from the Scottish Government in recognition of their hard work throughout the pandemic. In addition, a typical Band 5 nurse in Scotland already earns around £1000 more than their English counterparts.

The Royal College of Nursing has warned that staff may leave the profession in England due to feeling ‘undervalued’ in their work.

With an ageing population and rising demand on services, it is vital that new staff are recruited and existing staff are retained across the health and social care setting.

You can watch my full contribution to the debate here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RLIPWhUprNY

Dr Philippa Whitford MP

The proposal for a mere 1% pay rise suggests this Government do not value the risks taken and sacrifices made by health and care staff throughout the pandemic, nor the challenge that they will face to clear the backlog. Like their initial refusal to extend free school meals, it also shows the Government are out of touch with the public.

With a workforce crisis before the pandemic, does the Minister really believe that such a mean award will help recruit and retain healthcare staff? Senior band 5 nurses in England already earn up to £1,000 less than their Scottish counterparts, while the removal of the nursing bursary and imposition of tuition fees has saddled recently qualified nurses with up to £50,000 of debt. I am sure the Minister knows that shops do not accept claps instead of cash. Will this Government not give health and social care staff a decent pay rise and consider a one-off thank you payment, as in Scotland?

Minister Whately

I am somewhat surprised by the language the hon. Lady used around 1%, because a 1% pay rise for this large number of staff will cost around three quarters of a billion pounds. She should remember that this all has to be paid for in the context of, sadly, around three quarters of a million people losing their jobs through the pandemic, while others are seeing pay cuts or reduced hours. We are in a time of huge economic uncertainty, but while much of the public sector is going to have a pay freeze, the NHS workforce is going to have a pay rise.