The head of NHS England has called for frontline health and social care staff to be “properly rewarded” for their work – as pressure mounts on the Government to give them a pay-rise.
NHS England chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said he would back 1.3 million frontline workers who have helped the country get through the worst of the coronavirus crisis.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock raised hopes that ministers would agree to give brave frontline staff a boost.
He said: “We absolutely want to reward NHS staff for what they have done.” It came amid reports that NHS England has asked for an extra £10 billion to cover costs of coronavirus.
Sir Simon, who would not be drawn on the exact figure, said he was concerned that the NHS had enough money to cover the cost of maintaining extra beds, PPE and a mass flu vaccination campaign.
“What I have done with my colleagues is ask that there be necessary funding to give for the extra costs of coronavirus, that’s the commitment that the Chancellor gave back in March and I have to tell you he has delivered on it,” he said.
Mr Hancock added: “We protected the NHS during the peak of this crisis and we will protect the NHS in the future.
Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds called on the Government to listen to what the NHS was asking for this winter, warning that without sufficient funds it risked the “nightmare” scenario of being overwhelmed.
Unions representing more than 1.3 million NHS workers have already written to the Government calling for talks to begin on a pay rise to take effect before the end of the year.
Health workers are nearing the end of a three-year pay deal and the unions say a fair increase would show how much nurses, cleaners, physiotherapists, healthcare assistants, porters and other employees are valued.
Before the three-year pay deal agreed in 2018, which was worth at least 6.5% and excluded doctors, NHS workers had gone through seven years of 1% rises or pay freezes under David Cameron’s government.
The RCN has calculated that the average salary for a nurse has fallen by 8% in real terms since the Conservatives came to power in 2010.
In addition to calling for a pay rise for heroic frontline staff, the Mirror’s Give NHS Heroes a Medal campaign has been backed by leading politicians and celebrities.
Lib Dem leadership candidate Layla Moran said: “Nurses and care workers on the frontline against Covid-19 need more than a round of applause, they need a decent wage.
It cannot be right that some of those we rely on the most at this time of crisis are being paid the least.”