Emily Thornberry Labour MP for Islington South and Finsbury
Thank you for contacting me about the healthcare staff who have kept our healthcare system functioning throughout the Coronavirus pandemic. I understand that you are concerned about their pay and believe that NHS staff deserve a pay rise – I do too.
My Labour colleague, Jonathan Ashworth, put it so eloquently when he said that our NHS staff are “undervalued, overworked and underpaid”.
At the end of last year, the Chancellor announced that some public sector workers, including teachers, police officers, soldiers and civil servants, were going to be subjected to a pay freeze. At the same time, we were told that NHS staff would be exempt from this pay freeze – so, of course, people were expecting that NHS staff would be recommended a pay rise that at least aligned their wages with the cost of living and not one that was essentially a pay cut.
Following the March Budget, which failed to offer even a penny more to hospitals, the government proposed that NHS staff should receive a 1% pay rise.
After the eighteen months our health system has just endured, a proposed 1% pay rise was quite frankly an insult and Labour have raised this issue with the government on many occasions since.
As I’m sure you know, it was announced on 21st July that NHS staff in England will actually receive a 3% pay rise, in accordance with the recommendations of the independent NHS Pay Review Body. This pay rise will be extended to nurses, paramedics, consultants, dentists and salaried GPs.
The British Medical Association have pointed out that junior doctors and unsalaried GPs could miss out on this pay rise altogether, which I find unacceptable. Just like the rest of their NHS colleagues, junior doctors and unsalaried GPs have been placed under unprecedented pressure during the pandemic, and they deserve a pay rise which reflects all their hard work, sacrifices and dedication.
In response to the 3% pay rise, Labour’s Health Minister Justin Madders said: “The Pay Review Body has done what Ministers could and would not do – recognise that our NHS staff absolutely cannot be given a pay cut. After their hypocrisy, applauding NHS workers while trying to cut their pay, the government must make our NHS and key workers feel supported and valued after all they have done for us.”
Labour has always been the party of working people.
In our 2019 manifesto, we committed to restoring public sector pay to at least pre-financial crisis levels, starting with an increase of 5%. We also committed to bringing in a Real Living Wage of at least £10 per hour for all workers, alongside a ban on zero-hours contracts for workers who put in regular hours for more than 12 weeks.
Health and Social Care work has always been an issue close to my heart. During the past decade of Tory government, I have consistently opposed their attempts to cut and privatise the NHS. As you know, I led from the frontbench opposition to the hated Health and Social Care Act and I successfully fought to save the Whittington.
Thank you again for contacting me about this important topic, and I do apologise for the delay in responding to your email. If you have any further points you would like to raise about this issue, or indeed any other, please do not hesitate to get back in touch.
The Rt Hon. Emily Thornberry MP
Islington South and Finsbury
Shadow Secretary of State for International Trade