A county councillor representing Ramsgate and a Thanet MP have both voiced concerns over the 1% pay rise -above inflation – for NHS staff announced in this week’s Budget.
County Councillor Karen Constantine, who sits on the authority’s health scrutiny committee, has called the level of pay increase an “insult” and not reflective of the reward owed to staff who have been working on the frontline throughout the covid pandemic.
North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale has also said the rise is not enough and the decision should be made by the pay review body.
He told BBC Radio 4 that there should be recognition for all NHS staff, including ancillary workers, and that recognition could consist of a ‘very large, tax free’ one-off payment or a pay settlement decided by the board and honoured by government.
Cllr Constantine said: “One per cent! I feel embarrassed. During the pandemic, for various reasons I’ve had a lot of contact with our NHS staff. On a professional and personal basis. I’ve had the opportunity to listen carefully, conscious of the extreme pressure they are under, including not being able to take their leave and working a lot of overtime, sometimes unpaid. I’m aware of staff volunteering to help during their ‘time off’.
“Indeed at yesterday’s HOSC Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee, I thanked all our NHS staff and checked how recruitment was going. Apparently applications to train to become nurses are up. Fantastic news giving the dire nursing shortages.
“This week’s budget was an ideal opportunity to properly reward our all our NHS workers, including the nurses, the cleaners, the porters etc. But more than this, this is the single most important group of workers during the last year. Thanks are also due to many other workers of course but who can debate what our health workers have been through to save our lives?”
Cllr Constantine is now calling on local NHS workers to contact her with their thoughts and feelings about the pay award.
She has written to South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay to seek a meeting to discuss the level of pay rise in light of national staff shortages and an expected overall decline in NHS spending in the next financial year.
She says in her letter to Mr Mackinlay that NHS staff need “a proper reward package and a serious plan to deal with the vast rise in mental health conditions caused by the COVID pandemic.”
All communication will be treated as confidential. You can contact Karen by email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Royal College of Nursing Council has responded to the pay increase level by setting up a £35 million industrial action fund.
A strike fund is an amount of money that can be used to support workers, who are members of a trade union, to provide some compensation for loss of earnings and campaigning during industrial action.
RCN Council says it is determined to have the finances available to members should they wish to take industrial action.
Members can join RCN Chief Executive and General Secretary Dame Donna Kinnair and members of RCN Council and the RCN Trade Union Committee for an update at an online event tonight at 7pm. Find out how to join the event.
Dame Donna Kinnair said a 1% pay rise would mean an increase of just £3.50 a week in take-home pay for an experienced nurse. She is calling for a 12.5% pay increase.
A pay freeze was announced for other public sector workers, including teachers and police officers.
The government says the Covid pandemic had placed a “huge strain” on NHS finances but the pay increase is above the CPI rate of inflation and some NHS staff will get a higher rise under a previous three year deal agreement.