United Kingdom

Nurses fury as ministers offer them 'pitiful' pay rise of just ONE PER CENT as Covid reward

Nurses reacted with fury tonight after ministers offered them a pay rise of just one per cent as a reward for months spent putting their lives on the line to save coronavirus patients.

They blasted the 'pitiful' recommendation that was made in a document released by the Department of Health and Social Care -  which blames the impact of Covid on the public finances.

It came a day after health and social care were both notably absent from any increased funding in Rishi Sunak's coronavirus Budget.

In its submission to the NHS Pay Review Body today, the DHSC said that any higher than  one per cent 'would require re-prioritisation', adding: 'COVID-19 has created unavoidable direct and indirect financial impacts in the 2020-21 financial year and contributed to a challenging wider economic context.'

But the Royal College of Nursing's general secretary, Dame Donna Kinnair, said: 'This is pitiful and bitterly disappointing. The government is dangerously out of touch with nursing staff, NHS workers and the public.

 'It is not a done deal but the government has revealed its hand for the first time. With the time remaining before the Pay Review Body recommendation, the government can expect a backlash from a million NHS workers. 

'Taxpayers are supportive of a significant and fair pay rise for NHS workers – this year of all years.'

In its submission to the NHS Pay Review Body today, the DHSC said that any higher than one per cent 'would require re-prioritisation'

This level of pay sparked fury, coming as it does after a year of the pandemic in which Boris Johnson and other ministers were seen out clapping for NHS staff working to breaking point to save lives.

The Royal College of Nursing's general secretary, Dame Donna Kinnair, said: 'This is pitiful and bitterly disappointing. The government is dangerously out of touch with nursing staff, NHS workers and the public.

In the document, the DHSC says the pandemic has 'placed a huge strain on both public and NHS finances'.

'The economic outlook for 2021/22 remains uncertain and pay awards must be both fair and affordable,' it wrote.

'The government announced a pause in public sector pay rises for all workforces, with an exception for employees with basic full-time equivalent salaries of £24,000 or under and for the NHS. 

'In settling the DHSC and NHS budget, the government assumed a headline pay award of 1% for NHS staff. Anything higher would require re-prioritisation.'

In the document, the DHSC says the pandemic has 'placed a huge strain on both public and NHS finances'.

This level of pay sparked fury, coming as it does after a year of the pandemic in which Boris Johnson and other ministers were seen out clapping for NHS staff working to breaking point to save lives.

Unison's head of health Sara Gorton said: 'No wonder the chancellor had nothing to say about the NHS yesterday. 

'A one per cent pay rise is the worst kind of insult the government could give health workers who've given their absolute everything over the past year. The public will be horrified. Staff will think it's some kind of joke.

'Ministers should hang their heads in shame, go back to the drawing board and come up with the kind of pay rise that matches the astounding efforts staff have gone to in the past year.

'The entire NHS workforce will now expect to see the pay review body come up with a much more sensible and realistic recommendation than this laughable suggestion from the government.'

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