Both the Prime Minister and Chancellor were served notice of this last June when Sir John Major spoke candidly, and compellingly, about Covid and how the then weekly Clap for Carers celebrations was pricking the “national conscience”.
And the former PM also implied that there would, in time, be a day of reckoning about the daily contribution to national life made by low-paid people in “unglamorous” jobs like health and social care, cleaners, porters, delivery men, shop assistants and refuse collectors. “I think common decency suggests that this has to be put right and I think the national conscience post-Covid may well demand it,” he added.
That day has arrived and Ministers now need to reflect on Sir John’s words as the number of patients hospitalised by Covid nears 450,000. This has been the National Health Service’s finest hour – and only the dedication of all front line staff, from surgeons to porters and cleaners, has spared the country from an even greater tragedy.
Poorly paid before the pandemic, hence the systemic staff shortages that so compromised Ministers at the outset of the crisis, their commitment – and the omnipresent risks to their health – deserve better than the paltry proposed award.
As Sir John himself said, it is a question of priorities – and the Government needs to reappraise its stance. For, while some Ministers contend that they cannot afford to do more at this time, the country at large will argue that a three per cent rise is the very least that they should be awarding, politically and morally, to hospital staff and carers to reflect the new “national conscience”.
Support The Yorkshire Post and become a subscriber today. Your subscription will help us to continue to bring quality news to the people of Yorkshire. In return, you’ll see fewer ads on site, get free access to our app and receive exclusive members-only offers. Click here to subscribe.