Why NHS pay rise of one per cent is an insult – The Yorkshire Post says

BORIS JOHNSON and Rishi Sunak should have foreseen the mounting public backlash after the Government recommended a token one per cent pay rise for NHS workers in the wake of the Covid pandemic – effectively a salary decrease when inflation, and hikes in council tax, are taken into account.

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.

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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.

Graeme Bandeira's cartoon on the NHS pay controversy.

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”.

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Boris Johnson during a Clap for Carers celebration last May.
NHS staff say they're insulted by a proposed one per cent pay rise.
Sir John Major, the 1990-97 Prime Minister, has described how Covid is changing the 'national conscience' over issues like NHS pay.