'Kick in the teeth' - fury over 1pc proposed pay rise for NHS staff

Clap for Carers Norfolk & Norwich Hospital 30th April 2020. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

Unions have said the 1pc pay rise is a "kick in the teeth". - Credit: Archant

A proposed 1pc pay rise for NHS staff has been called a "kick in the teeth" by leading health service unions.

The Government has been criticised by the Royal College of Nursing, UNISON and British Medical Association, but ministers defended the proposal at a time when the economy was under "huge pressure" as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The move follows Chancellor Rishi Sunak's announcement in last year's spending review of a pay freeze for most public sector workers outside the NHS.

In its submission, the pay review bodies for NHS staff and for doctors and dentists, the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) said the NHS budget was based on a headline pay rise of 1pc.

It suggested any award above that would require cuts to services with a "re-prioritisation" of funding within the service.

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Dame Donna Kinnair,  Royal College of Nursing general secretary, said the amount would be an increase of £3.50 a week in take home pay for an experienced nurse.

"This is pitiful and bitterly disappointing. The Government is dangerously out of touch with nursing staff, NHS workers and the public," she said.

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"Nobody would think that is fair in the middle of a pandemic and it will do nothing to prevent the exodus from nursing."

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, who chairs the British Medical Association council, said it came as a "kick in the teeth" after a decade in which doctors had experienced real terms pay cuts of up to 30pc.

Unison head of health Sara Gorton said: "A 1% pay rise is the worst kind of insult the Government could give health workers who've given their absolute everything over the past year.

"The public will be horrified. Staff will think it's some kind of joke."

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said in an appearance on Question Time while the performance of the NHS had been "first class", many people in the private sector faced losing their jobs.

He said: "No one is doubting the NHS has been absolutely first class in this whole pandemic. What I am suggesting is that the whole economy has been under huge pressure.

"When I look at people in the hospitality sector, in aviation, in retail, many of them are very, very worried they won't even be in a job in two or three months."

A Government spokesman said ministers would "carefully" consider the recommendations of the pay review bodies when they report in late spring.

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