COVID-19: 1% Salary Increase for NHS Staff ‘Most’ Government Can Afford, Says Minister Nadine Dorries | Political news
A 1% pay rise for NHS workers is “the maximum” the government can afford due to the economic cost of the COVID crisis, a health minister told Sky News.
The government faces a backlash – led by Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer – after asking that health workers in England be limited to a 1% pay rise.
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But Nadine Dorries said it “would be wrong to say that one person in government doesn’t appreciate the effort” of NHS staff, as she has defended the decision not to recommend a bigger pay rise.
“Of course, we recognize the sacrifice, commitment and vocation of nurses and all health workers over the past year,” the minister said.
“We have all been touched by, or personally experienced, the help of NHS workers.
“But I think it’s important to note that the government’s priority has been to protect people’s livelihoods, to continue the leave program, to fight the pandemic, and we have put enormous efforts into this meaning.
“We didn’t want nurses to go unrecognized – or doctors – and no other public sector employee to get a pay rise, there was a pay freeze.
“But the 1% offer is the maximum we think we can afford, which we have offered to the salary review body.”
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN), which called for a 12.5% pay hike for nurses, said a 1% pay hike would only represent an extra £ 3.50 per week in take-home pay for an experienced nurse.
Inflation is currently at 0.9%, but other unions have pointed to an expected inflation of 1.5% this year to claim that a 1% pay rise for NHS staff would actually equal to a reduction in wages in real terms.
In an emergency meeting on Friday, RCN leaders voted to immediately create a £ 35million protest fund if its members wish to go on strike.
Ms Dorries, a former nurse, admitted that “everyone in an ideal world would like to see nurses paid a lot more”.
But she stressed that there had been “huge borrowing and costs to the government” due to coronavirus pandemic.
“Nurses have had a 12% pay rise over the past three years, the average nurse’s salary is around £ 34,000 a year, and rightly so,” she added.
“This time last year, we were just looking to deal with this global pandemic.
“And we all know what the past year has been and what we have had to go through; it has been a huge expense to fight the pandemic.”
Labor shadow secretary of health Jonathan Ashworth told Sky News that Ms Dorries’ claim that a 1% pay rise was all the government could afford was “shocking, disgusting” and ” an absolute kick in the teeth “.
“We have frontline NHS staff fighting to save people’s lives, we have NHS staff running the immunization program,” he said.
“And a 1% pay rise is paltry – in fact, if the inflation estimates come true, it’s a pay cut. This government cuts the wages of nurses who fight to save the lives of COVID patients, they should be ashamed of themselves. “
In its submission to the NHS Compensation Review Body, the Department of Health and Social Affairs (DHSC) said the total NHS budget was based on 1% overall compensation for staff.
Suggesting that any larger pay premium might require service cuts, the DHSC document added: “Anything higher would require re-prioritization.”
And he said that sustaining “world-class patient care” requires “the right balance between wages and staff through reward systems that are affordable and tailored to their needs.”
In his review of last year’s spending, Chancellor Rishi Sunak frozen wages for most public sector workers outside the NHS.
A government spokesperson said: ‘More than a million NHS staff continue to benefit from multi-year pay deals with unions, which have resulted in a pay rise of more than 12% for new nurses. graduates and will increase the salary scales for young doctors by 8.2%.
“Pay increases in the rest of the public sector will be on hold this year due to the tough economic environment, but we will continue to provide pay increases for NHS workers.
“The independent compensation review bodies will report in late spring and we will carefully consider their recommendations when we receive them.”