The Tories’ 3% NHS pay rise is even worse than it sounds

Pickett sight at NHS pay justice march, Westminster, January 2021
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NHS workers and unions have responded to the government’s confused, last-minute announcement of an “insulting” 3% pay rise with outrage. After inflation, the proposed pay ‘rise’ amounts to about 0.6%. The government has left many NHS staff – such as junior doctors – out of the proposed rise in pay. This means that they’re getting yet another real terms pay cut.

Unhappy with the pay deal, nurses and trade unions are considering industrial action. As nurses and unions have highlighted, this really is a kick in the teeth after a decade of underfunding, privatisation, falling wages, and the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

Sticking two fingers up at NHS staff

On 21 July, health secretary Sajid Javid said that the merger pay rise should show NHS workers how much the Tories “value and respect their incredible contribution to our nation”. In a sense, he wasn’t lying. Responding to the government’s announcement, this parody Boris Johnson account summarised:

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Highlighting that claps and rainbows won’t pay NHS workers’ bills, the Green Party’s spokesperson on work and welfare Catherine Rowett shared:

Reflecting calls led by grassroots campaign group NHS Workers Say No for a 15% pay rise, Unite assistant general secretary for politics and legal Howard Beckett said:

This isn’t a pay rise

The government’s last-minute offer of a 3% pay rise for NHS staff actually equates to another real terms pay cut. According to the GMB Union, in the past decade, NHS workers have lost up to £9k a year through real terms pay cuts. This comes alongside a decade of cuts and privatisation, overworked staff and understaffed services, and 18 months of a pandemic which killed hundreds of frontline health and care workers. Highlighting the profound injustice of the proposed pay ‘rise’, campaign group EveryDoctor shared:

The Green Party Trade Union Group added:

MP for Leicester East Claudia Webbe shared:

Dr Julia Patterson added:

What about junior doctors?

Although the inadequate pay deal covers nurses, paramedics, consultants, dentists, and salaried GPs, it doesn’t apply to all NHS staff – including junior doctors. Grassroots campaign group NHS Million shared:

Highlighting the broad range of staff and responsibilities covered by junior doctors, Dr Samantha Batt-Rawden shared:

It’s time for the government to cough up

NHS workers and trade unions – including grassroots campaign group NHS Workers Say No – are considering industrial action, and calling on the government to give NHS staff the 15% pay rise they deserve:

Suggesting that the government has enough money to pay health workers a decent wage, David Schneider listed the government’s priorities:

Labour MP For Hemsworth Jon Trickett added:

Solidarity with all NHS workers

Calling the government’s proposals a ‘kick in the teeth’, journalist Owen Jones expressed solidarity with NHS workers campaigning for a fair pay rise:

Setting out just how important it is for us all to support NHS workers’ campaign for decent pay, London Green Party trade union liaison Matthew Hull said:

This is just another case of the Tory government putting profits before people. We must stand in solidarity with NHS workers and unions, and demand that the government gives them the rights, pay, and conditions they deserve.

Featured image via Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona/Unsplash

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