Government has ‘made a big mistake’ on pay and missed the chance to turn the NHS around

Commenting on the government’s announcement yesterday that NHS staff in England are to receive a pay rise of £1,400 this year, UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said:

“Th​e government has made a big mistake. ​This short-sighted decision risks harming the UK’s most cherished institution ​beyond repair.

“​Ministers might have shifted their pay position a little, but nowhere near enough. This award is barely half the lowest level of inflation. The price surge shows no sign of easing and hikes to energy bills will wipe out the rise for almost everyone.

“It’s unlikely the increase will apply to the many staff working in hospitals and ambulances services but employed by private contractors. They need a wage boost too.

“A decent pay rise isn’t a magic cure for every NHS ill. But it would show staff and patients that ministers care enough to start sorting out the workforce crisis at the heart of the health service’s many problems.

“Sadly, this award fails on every front. It doesn’t protect health workers from the growing cost of living crisis, arrest the decline in patient services or cut queues.

“Wages are key to fixing the staffing shortages ​hampering the health service’s post-pandemic recovery. The public understands this. It’s a pity the government doesn’t. The Treasury should fund this pay award fully.

“Ministers seem intent on running down the NHS, showing scant regard for the millions of people languishing on waiting lists for tests and treatment.

“Rather than save the NHS with proper investment in staff and services, those vying to be the next Prime Minister want to keep back the cash for pre-election tax cuts.

“Fed-up staff might well now decide to take the matter into their own hands. If there is to be a dispute in the NHS, ministers will have no one to blame but themselves.”