Furious Tory MPs slam Government’s plan to give 1% pay rise to NHS Covid heroes
FURIOUS Tory MPs last night slammed the Government’s plan to only dole out a 1 per cent pay rise for NHS Covid heroes.
Health Minister Helen Whately was hauled over the coals in a fiery Commons showdown over the controversial proposal.
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Angry MPs branded the offer a “kick in the teeth” and begged her to recognise the “heroic efforts” of NHS staff who saw Britain through the worst pandemic in a century.
While they accused Health Secretary Matt Hancock of dodging scrutiny by skipping the Urgent Question and sending his deputy to face the fire and fury.
Conservative backbenchers teamed up with their usual enemies on the Labour benches to urge the Treasury to cough up more cash.
On average, a nurse working in the UK earns £25,578 a year.
Influential Tory Robert Halfon hailed the “heroic efforts” of NHS staff over the past 12 months.
He added: “Whilst absolutely recognising the economic constraints, and the 2 trillion pound debt that our country owes, will we consider and at least at least propose a larger increase for lower paid NHS workers?”
Tory MP and former health minister Steve Brine also weighed in, warning of a looming exodus of stressed-out nurses from the profession.
He raged: “The elephant in the room here is not pay across the board, but low pay in the NHS.
“Even a 10 per cent pay rise of not very much is not very much.
“Don’t we really need a grown up conversation about what we pay those who do some of the least glamorous jobs across health and social care day in and day out every single year?”
Fellow Tory Andrew Percy, who has spent years volunteering as a rapid responder in the ambulance service also broke cover.
He urged health ministers to “open up discussions with the Treasury to look at what more we can do for our NHS”.
Labour also took aim at the offer with Paul Blomfield branding it a “kick in the teeth” and shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth saying it amounts to a real terms pay cut.
He fumed: “At a time when NHS staff are more pressured than in midst the biggest health crisis for a century, when there are 100,000 shortages across the NHS, does she not accept a pay cut will make those gaps worse and drive up the bills for agency work?”
But despite the fire and fury, Ms Whately doubled down on the offer, which is being considered by an independent review body which will make the final recommendation.
She said the country is “grateful” to NHS staff for all their work.
She added: “But while so much of the public sector is having a pay freeze NHS staff will get a pay rise in these difficult times.”
Quizzed on the row at last night’s press conference, Boris Johnson suggested he wants NHS cash to be spent on recruiting more nurses instead.
He said: "I would stress, first of all, the gratitude that I think everybody feels towards the nursing profession and all health and social care workers.
“One of the most important things that nurses tell me they want to see is more nurses to help them on the wards, to help them cope with the pandemic and everything else.
“There are 10,000 more now this year than there were last year and that’s a good thing."
Nurses have recently been given a pay rise, and the NHS has had a £62 billion funding boost under his premiership, he added.
The NHS pay review body will consider the government's proposal and make its recommendation in May this year.
Tory MPs fear the row could turn toxic in the next two months.
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