A senior government minister has said he hopes NHS staff will be given an “appropriate” pay rise this year.
The government is facing a furious outcry after calling for a headline increase of just 1% in its submission last week to the NHS pay review body. Ministers have argued that it was all that could be afforded following the massive hit to the public finances caused by the pandemic at a time when most public sector workers were facing a pay freeze.
However, justice secretary Robert Buckland appeared to strike a more conciliatory note, saying that the submission to the pay review body was only the “beginning of a process”. He told BBC Breakfast:
The final recommendations have not yet been made.
We have got to remember that in large other swathes of the public sector there will be a pay freeze save for the lowest paid. I don’t think at the moment we are at the end of this process.
I think that we need to see what the recommendations are, and I very much hope that the outcome – whilst it might not be an outcome in these difficult circumstances that will result in pay rises that everybody would want to see – that the work that has been done by NHS workers will be recognised in a way that is appropriate, bearing in mind the constraints we are all under.
It is not for me to start to prejudge what the outcome of the negotiations is. I am simply pointing out that we are at the beginning of that process and we will have to see what the recommendations are.
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“Slap in the face”
The proposed 1% pay rise has been accused of going back on a previously negotiated deal. It’s also been argued that due to it being below inflation an increase of 1% will ultimately constitute a pay cut.
Patricia Marquis, the Royal College of Nursing’s South East regional director, told Times Radio:
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We know there are significant numbers who are planning to leave and this slap in the face from the Government really has just reinforced their belief that they are not valued by either the Government or perhaps some of the public in the way they would want to be.
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