I’d like to thank you firstly for the invaluable role you and your colleagues have played in the UK’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, and for contacting me about the pressing issue of a pay rise for nursing staff.  I’d also like to apologise for the delay in responding. As you can imagine, we have been inundated with casework relating to the Covid-19 pandemic recently.

Like you, I believe that the average pay for nurses does not reflect the selfless work being done by you and your colleagues, particularly during the pandemic. As you know, a decade of Tory funding cuts and privatisation has resulted in healthcare staff being overworked and underpaid. It is unacceptable that, as you said, nursing staff are worse off now compared to ten years ago. That is why I have written to the Chancellor regarding your concerns. You will find the letter attached, for your reference.

This government’s failure to set up a functional test and trace system, their disorganisation and delay, and their inability to control the rising number of infections has put unimaginable pressure on you and your colleagues. Despite this, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has refused to commit to a 2021-2022 pay rise for nurses, saying that timing of Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s latest spending review last November delayed the process.

Additionally, the report of the independent pay review board, due in May of this year has meant that staff are unlikely to see a pay rise until this summer. It is disgraceful that after readily handing out millions of pounds to their friends and donors, for projects that have been abject failures, the Tories cannot commit to paying our nurses the wage they deserve.

Health and Social Care work has always been an issue close to my heart. During the last 10 years of Conservative government, I have consistently opposed their attempts to cut and privatise the NHS. As you know, I led from the front bench the opposition to the hated Health and Social Care Act and I successfully fought to save the Whittington.

I am proud to say that it was Labour who committed in 2019 to an immediate 5% pay rise for nurses, with guaranteed real-terms annual pay rises. We recognise the implications of Tory funding cuts and privatisation on NHS workers, and we have pledged time and again to reverse these moves. Just last July, Keir Starmer outlined Labour’s support for those calling on the Government for an immediate commitment to pay rise talks for NHS workers including nurses. Clapping to show appreciation for healthcare workers is simply not enough. This Government must take meaningful action to recognise the commitment you and your colleagues have shown to Britain and its people. With the NHS on the verge of being overwhelmed, nursing staff, now more than ever, should be awarded a fully funded pay award without delay.

I would like to thank you again for contacting me about this important topic. Please do not hesitate to get in touch with me in the future regarding this or any other issue.

Best wishes,

The Rt Hon. Emily Thornberry MP

Islington South and Finsbury

Shadow Secretary of State for International Trade


Dear Rishi,

I am writing on behalf of a number of constituents, some of them nursing staff, who have recently contacted me regarding the Fair Pay for Nursing campaign.

For too long, nursing staff have been undervalued, underpaid and overworked – an issue which predates the Covid-19 pandemic. As my constituents have pointed out, nursing staff are now worse off than they were ten years ago. Which, considering their invaluable contribution to keeping the NHS and this country afloat during the pandemic, is unacceptable.

I understand that your colleague Matt Hancock recently refused to commit to a 2021-22 pay rise, citing the delay in your November spending review, along with the report of the independent pay review board – due in May – as the reasoning for this decision.
It is imperative, now more than ever, to show a commitment to the nursing staff who have done so much for our country, particularly over the past year. I also understand that nursing is currently struggling with record vacancies across the UK, at a time when the NHS is at capacity.

I am therefore writing to you today to urge that in your upcoming budget, scheduled for March 3rd, you make provisions for awarding nursing staff a fully-funded pay rise, without delay.

An immediate pay rise would make a significant difference firstly to the economic situation of nursing staff. Moreover, considering the crisis of vacancies, this would incentivise current nursing staff to stay in their posts, while attracting prospective nurses as well.

Finally, a pay rise would make our kind words for our healthcare workers a reality, showing them that nursing is valued as complex, skilled and responsible work, which has been invaluable in our response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Thank you for looking into this matter. I look forward to hearing from you.

Best wishes,

The Rt Hon. Emily Thornberry MP

Islington South and Finsbury Shadow

Secretary of State for International Trade

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