Labour has pledged today, Wednesday, to scrap the Tories’ 1 percent pay cap for tens of thousands of health workers.
The party’s shadow health secretary John Ashworth addressed the Unison union’s health conference in Liverpool. He said health workers had been “ignored, insulted, undervalued, overworked and underpaid”.
“I can confirm that an incoming Labour government will scrap the pay cap and give NHS workers the pay they deserve,” he said.
The right wing press has already jumped on Ashworth’s speech as a “reckless” move that would push the NHS deeper into crisis. The Daily Mail newspaper claimed the cap “has helped to prevent health trusts slipping even further into the red”.
It said lifting the cap would “blow a “£1 billion hole in the health budget”—as the Tories plan to create a £22 billion crater. Their plans come on top of years of budget cuts, marketisation and privatisation that have left the NHS reeling.
Health workers lost over £4.3 billion from their wage packets between 2010 and 2016 because of the pay cap that’s imposed until 2020. If the Tories aren’t pushed back through strikes or voted out in June, workers will lose even more.
With inflation running at 2.3 percent, the cap amounts to a pay cut. This isn’t just pushing NHS workers into poverty – it has consequences for patient care.
Scandalously low pay and rocketing workloads are pushing health workers out of the NHS, fuelling an acute staffing crisis.
This has been made worse by the Tories axing bursaries for nurses, occupational therapists and other health students. As Ashworth said, “We want NHS staff to be the best trained in the world, not kick the ladder away.
“That why we will introduce NHS bursaries”.