Calls across Kent for rethink on NHS 1% pay rise proposals

Video report by ITV News Meridian's John Ryall

MPs have joined the South East's NHS staff calling on the Government to rethink the 1% pay increase announced in last week's budget.

It has been revealed plans were in place for a 2.1% rise before nurses and doctors spent a year battling Covid-19.

North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale said he agrees they deserve more.

"The government has promised to award people working in the National Health Service. One percent would be chewed up with inflation in no time at all.

"They have done exceptional work in the last year and it has been exceptional. We have promised we would give them a reward. Quite simply I want that promise kept."

Candy Gregory is a nurse and campaigner, and says a 1% pay rise is just not good enough.

She says: "We've felt that we deserve more; having been through a pandemic, having worked with inadequate PPE, having lost 800 healthcare workers."

The union the RCN says there was the potential for strike action.

Patricia Marquis from the Royal College of Nursing says: "They will feel they have to do it as they are so concerned about the future for nursing and future for the NHS.

"If there aren't enough staff, then there really isn't any hope that the NHS will be able to deliver the services that it needs to deliver as we come out of the pandemic."

The government's proposed a pay rise will amount to a real-terms pay cut when inflation is taken into account - it is estimated the 1% proposed increase will give most staff just £3.50 extra a week.

Credit: Chris Radburn/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Nurses, doctors and health unions are outraged by the proposed pay rise, with the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) even preparing for strike action in protest at the "pitiful" offer.

The government has defended the proposal, saying it is the most the country can afford at a time when the economy is under “huge pressure” as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Last week Boris Johnson's spokesperson said: "We recognise the impact Covid has had on the NHS and we want to honour this.

"But the pandemic has real consequences and we have done all that we can to protect jobs and save livelihoods.

"The recommended 1% pay rise for NHS staff is what is affordable while acknowledging their work and commitment over the last 12 months."