NHS staff must make do with ‘clapping and badges’ after being denied pay rise

Government faces growing calls to grant NHS ‘Covid heroes’ bigger pay rise after recommending 1% increase

At least 230 NHS staff have died during the pandemic while thousands have been on long-term sick leave as a result of working on the frontline as Covid-19 pushed hospitals to their limit.

Unions and opposition politicians had been calling for a pay rise for health service staff and were left angry by the Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s silence on the issue in his Budget.

Rehana Azam, national officer of the trade union the GMB, said: “This budget is an insult to the millions of NHS, schools, care, local government workers who have seen us through this crisis.”

Joining the backlash on Thursday night, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer called on the government to give the NHS’s “Covid heroes” a bigger pay rise.

Sir Keir said the proposals would amount to a cut in real-terms, tweeting: “You can’t rebuild a country by cutting nurses’ pay.”

Sir Kier Starmer, Getty Images

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said a pay award “as poor as this” would mean only an extra £3.50 per week take home pay for an experienced nurse.

A government spokesperson said: “Over one million NHS staff continue to benefit from multi-year pay deals agreed with trade unions, which have delivered a pay rise of over 12% for newly qualified nurses and will increase junior doctors’ pay scales by 8.2%.

“Pay rises in the rest of the public sector will be paused this year due to the challenging economic environment, but we will continue to provide pay rises for NHS workers, on top of a £513m investment in professional development and increased recruitment.

“That’s with record numbers of doctors and 10,600 more nurses working in our NHS, and with nursing university applications up by over a third.

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