MPs in the North East have spoken out about the Government’s recommendation that NHS staff in England should receive a 1 per cent pay increase this year.
It comes after Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer demanded that MPs should be given a vote on the pay rise in the House of Commons.
Speaking to SR News, Labour MP for Tynemouth Alan Campbell said: “Our healthcare staff have been heroic during this pandemic and the response from the Government is a disgrace.
‘‘The Government showed their hand when they put in their submission to the nurses’ pay review body suggesting a 1 per cent increase which would in practice mean a pay cut.
‘‘Their own legislation allowed for a 2.1 per cent increase and that figure should be the starting point not the end point for any decision by the pay body.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson stands by the 1 per cent pay rise, suggesting the Government is giving workers “as much as we can” in the “tough times” of the Covid pandemic.
However recently it was announced that NHS Scotland will be giving ‘at least’ a 4 per cent pay rise to their staff.
Labour MP for Newcastle-upon-Tyne East Nick Brown said: ‘‘After a year of being on the frontline getting us through the pandemic, with some workers losing their lives, the Government’s announced 1 per cent pay rise is simply not enough. It amounts to a real term pay cut.”
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has insisted that this is not a real term pay cut, stating that as inflation is below 1 per cent this will still be a salary increase for NHS workers.
‘‘I feel that our National Health Service workers have been undervalued throughout the decade of Conservative austerity,’’ Mr Brown added. ‘‘This crisis has shown that health and social care should be one of the chief priorities of the Government.’’
Labour MP for Gateshead Ian Mearns agreed. He said: ‘‘NHS front line staff have put themselves on the line to treat patients and to also keep the NHS going across the board, and I personally believe that not rewarding them appropriately is counterproductive when trying to stimulate growth in our economy.’’
Jarrow MP Kate Osborne from Labour also spoke about the ‘slap in the face’ the pay rise is for health workers. She said: ‘‘A post-pandemic NHS faces new challenges that range from further waves of infection to the long-term demand on NHS services from ‘long-covid’.
“A significant pay rise would help the NHS retain staff to meet these new demands, it would also mean an improvement in the delivery of care.
‘‘Many of us have applauded NHS staff from our doorsteps for keeping us safe throughout the pandemic. But sadly, that does not put food on the table of those who have suffered 10 years of pay cuts under Conservative governments. The Government must bring forward a significant pay rise that would finally reflect the respect and value we place in their work.’’
Prime Minister Mr Johnson has said that the Government will review the NHS Pay Review Body’s recommendations.