1% pay rise suggestion for NHS staff 'pitiful' and 'bitterly disappointing'

Video report by ITV News Political Correspondent Carl Dinnen

The government's suggested 1% pay rise for health workers has been slammed as "pitiful" and "bitterly disappointing" by those in the profession.

The Department of Health and Social Care proposed the pay rise in its evidence to the NHS Pay Review Board which read: "Covid-19 has put a huge strain on both public and NHS finances."

The proposal has been heavily criticised by health and social care workers, with Dame Donna Kinnair - head of the Royal College of Nursing - telling ITV News: "It's pitiful and I'm bitterly disappointed."

She added: "Nursing staff coming off a shift and already demoralised, working hard, will be heartbroken and angry."

It comes as the chancellor was labelled "Scrooge Sunak" over his move to cut spending and raise taxes by nearly £50 billion, set out in the Budget.

  • 'He clearly thinks clapping is enough - it's not'

Another nurse, Holly Turner, criticised Health Secretary Matt Hancock: "He clearly thinks that clapping and wearing a badge saying 'care' is enough - well it's not'."

The reaction of those within the profession has been mirrored by unions and Labour, who described the report as "callous and an enormous slap in the face" for workers.

Unison head of health Sara Gorton said it was the "worst kind of insult the government could give health workers" following a year of the pandemic.

"The public will be horrified. Staff will think it’s some kind of joke," she added.

The public have been encouraged to clap for NHS staff and care workers during the pandemic. Credit: PA

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth described it as "the ultimate kick in the teeth" for NHS staff.

He added: "Rishi Sunak promised to be open and honest with the public yet shamefully insults every single member of NHS staff, sneaking out this announcement and failing to include any mention of NHS pay in the Budget."

Quizzed on the suggested pay rise, Prime Minister Boris Johnson avoided commenting on the figure.

He told reporters: "We've invested already in the health and social care sector, huge quantities throughout the pandemic, and I think the whole country is massively grateful to health and social care workers for everything they've done."

A government spokesperson said: "Over one million NHS staff continue to benefit from multi-year pay deals agreed with trade unions, which have delivered a pay rise of over 12% for newly-qualified nurses and will increase junior doctors’ pay scales by 8.2%.

"Pay rises in the rest of the public sector will be paused this year due to the challenging economic environment, but we will continue to provide pay rises for NHS workers, on top of a £513 million investment in professional development and increased recruitment.

Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak appeared together the day after the Budget announcement. Credit: AP

"That’s with record numbers of doctors and 10,600 more nurses working in our NHS, and with nursing university applications up by over a third.

"The independent pay review bodies will report in late spring and we will consider their recommendations carefully when we receive them."