The Workers Union has issued a message on behalf of all NHS workers by telling the government to ‘stop clapping and start spending.’
The news comes as hard-pressed staff deal with mounting pressure at work, where COVID-19 cases are pushing the already stressed system to the brink.
In an additional blow, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has refused to rubber stamp pay rises for all NHS staff. Mr Hancock has argued that they must wait for the independent pay review board to publish its findings in May. That position was echoed in a statement from the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC). The DHSC said it would ‘listen to valued staff so everyone is rewarded fairly and, when we receive them, we will consider the recommendations of the independent NHS Pay Review Body.’
The Workers Union on NHS Pay Rises
When the people of future generations look back on these tumultuous times, they will consider the selfless devotion to duty of NHS workers in the same light as previous generations did their war heroes. That is the level of dedication that we are witnessing in hospitals and other care settings up and down the country.
So it is with some disquiet that we read the messaging coming out of Whitehall. Words such as “affordability” and “challenging fiscal contexts” – so often code for pay freezes – are commonplace. The Health Secretary does nothing to allay suspicions by slipping out a formal letter to the chair of the NHS pay review body, Phillipa Hird, late on a Friday in December. In just a few paragraphs he spends more time requesting that Hird describes what ‘steps she has taken to take account of affordability’ than he does offering much hope of a just reward for healthcare workers.
Why is this important? Well, the truth, only barely acknowledged by some in government, is that our doctors, nurses and support assistants are holding this country together. There are more than 30,000 people in hospital with COVID, and each admission pushes beleaguered staff closer to the point of collapse. We are not dealing with robots, automatons that are up and running with an oil change and a fresh battery pack. These are living, breathing people who are suffering as they try to prevent the suffering of others.
In such a context it seems perverse to start using raw economics as a bar to pay-rises. If we reject the chance to reward these brave people fairly, then we reject any pretence that we are all in this together.
We are calling for an immediate pay increase of 15 percent for all NHS workers. That would at least go some way towards thanking them for their magnificent efforts.
Talk is cheap and so is clapping. Now it’s time to start spending on a decent pay offer for these very modern heroes.
The Workers Union – Fighting for you, fighting for the NHS