THE highly successful rollout of the Covid vaccination programme, and the measured manner in which the relaxation of the wearying ‘lockdown’ regulations are scheduled to be lifted, appear most heartening.
They seem to demonstrate that the Government recognises both the challenges presented by the virus, and the huge stresses and strains that restrictions place on every element of society.
Throughout, the emphasis has been on the outstanding work of the NHS and on how important it is to support the work of all the amazing teams and individuals, who have worked way above and beyond what could reasonably be expected.
A very considerable number of these staff have lost their lives while serving the nation. Sadly, it would seem that deep inconsistencies have arisen.
How galling, bordering on the obscene it is, to hear that the proposal for the ‘reward’ to NHS staff is a one per cent pay rise.
As one representative said, the cost of a take-out sandwich per week. How did this disgraceful state of affairs ever get to see the light of day, never mind be aired as policy?
It is in no way justifiable on any level. When challenged at the Downing Street briefing on Friday, Matt Hancock looked extremely uncomfortable, and moved swiftly on without really answering the issue...perhaps even he realised he was being asked to defend the indefensible.
At the very least the two per cent agreed in the long term NHS deal should be honoured, and a one-off ‘over and above bonus’ paid to all in recognition of the ‘over and above work’ the staff have carried out. I believe that the vast majority of people would be prepared to contribute towards this, each according to their means.
To rub salt in the wound, we hear that over £2m has been spent on setting up a facility for news conferences in 9 Downing Street, and that over £200,000 has been spent on a refurbishment of accommodation for the Johnson family in the flat at 11 Downing Street. How many lives will be saved, hands of dying patients held, or careful support given to grieving families of NHS staff who have died, with those monies?
The country is still in a difficult position on both Covid and financial fronts. We ‘clapped for carers’ with great enthusiasm. We must not let those claps have a hollow ring. A rethink, and action on equitable financial reward for NHS staff is needed now, so that we truly ‘support the NHS’ as they continue to support us.
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