NHS staff have been offered a “digusting” 1% pay rise to which the government are defending as it is the “most” that they can afford amid the pandemic.
The Health Minister Nadine Dorries defended the decision and said “would be wrong to say a single person in the government does not appreciate the effort” of NHS staff.
She added, “Of course, we recognise the sacrifice and the commitment and the vocation of nurses and all health workers over the past year.
“We’ve all been touched by, or personally experienced, help by NHS workers.
“But I think it is important to note that the priority of the government has been about protecting people’s livelihoods, about continuing the furlough scheme, about fighting the pandemic, and we’ve put huge effort into that.
“We did not want nurses to go unrecognised or doctors and no other public sector employee is receiving a pay rise, there has been a pay freeze.
“But the 1% offer is the most we think we can afford, which we have put forward to the pay review body.”
However the Royal College of Nursing have called on a 12.5% pay rise and said the 1% only offers an extra £3.50 a week for experienced nurses.
Dorries who is a former nurse said that due to the huge borrowing and cost to the government amid the pandemic, this is all that they can afford.
The Health Minister added, “Nurses have had a 12% increase in pay over the last three years, the average nurse’s salary is around, quite rightly, £34,000 per annum.
“This time last year we were just looking in the face of this global pandemic.
“And we all know what the last year has held and what we’ve had to go through; that has been a huge amount of expense on fighting the pandemic.”
Speaking to Sky News, Labour’s shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said the 1% pay rise is”shocking, disgusting” and “an absolute kick in the teeth.”
Ashworth said, “We’ve got NHS staff on the frontline battling to save people’s lives, we’ve got NHS staff delivering the vaccination programme.
“And a 1% pay rise is derisory – in fact, if the estimates for inflation come true, it’s a pay cut.
“This government is cutting the pay of nurses who are fighting to save the lives of Covid patients, they should be ashamed.”
NHS pay review body, the Department for Health said the total NHS budget was based on a headline pay award of 1% for staff.
A government spokesperson said, “Over 1m NHS staff continue to benefit from multi-year pay deals agreed with trade unions, which have delivered a pay rise of over 12% for newly qualified nurses and will increase junior doctors’ pay scales by 8.2%.
“Pay rises in the rest of the public sector will be paused this year due to the challenging economic environment, but we will continue to provide pay rises for NHS workers.
“The independent pay review bodies will report in late spring and we will consider their recommendations carefully when we receive them.”