This week I spoke in a parliamentary debate on NHS pay, tabled by my good friend Paula Barker MP, who has a long track record of championing workers’ rights and fighting for better pay and conditions for all public sector workers.
After the most challenging year for the NHS since its inception, when staff have been stretched to breaking point in order to keep our country safe and deliver first class care despite a chronically underfunded health service, a paltry 1% pay rise is no way for the Government to reward them.
The Government should hang its head in shame.
To put the pay rise in context, a one percent pay rise amounts to just £223 million pounds a year, or 2.23 percent of the £10 billion pounds set aside for new nuclear warheads, and just 0.22 percent of the £37 billion pounds for the failed Test and Trace programme. When you combine that with the £30 million pounds the Health Secretary squandered on Covid contracts for his former neighbour – the decision not to give money to those who deserve it most is quite clearly an ideological one.
Research by UNISON has revealed that 52 percent of NHS workers are considering leaving their position within the next year, with one in ten considering this option “very seriously”. That is a staggering statistic; and it’s not simply because those staff feel overstretched after an incredibly difficult period – it’s because 70 percent feel worse off than a year ago.
That is simply unacceptable.
Staff like those at Stepping Hill Hospital in Stockport, and people like Mr David McAllister, who runs the UNISON health branch at the hospital deserve far better, as do all those in the public sector.
It’s time for the Government to give NHS staff more than just a clap and a few insincere words.
Give our NHS heroes what they deserve.