Unions representing cross-section of healthcare staff increase pressure on government to use Queen’s speech to lift 1% restriction on pay rises.
The NHS pay cap is unfair, unpopular and dangerous to patient safety, bodies representing 1.3 million health service staff have warned Theresa May, urging her to ditch the policy in the Queen’s speech.
The plea from doctors, nurses, dentists and other health professionals comes as the prime minister faces intense pressure to scrap the cap, introduced in 2010, which has limited NHS staff to 1% pay rises or below. It is legislated to continue until 2020.
In an unprecedented joint letter, a range of health trade unions told May the policy was among the reasons why the Conservative party lost its Commons majority in the general election earlier this month. “By your own admission, austerity, and a lack of investment in the public sector was a significant factor in the general election result,” the letter says. “Many have said that the pay freeze in the public sector was in part to blame for your failure to secure a parliamentary majority.”
The letter follows the admission last week by Stephen Crabb, the former work and pensions secretary, that he lost votes because of Tory spending cuts. After years of wage restraint, teachers, nurses and local council staff all deserved a pay rise, he told the BBC.
NHS staff have become increasingly angry about the pay cap as inflation has soared from 0.3% in May 2016 to 2.9% last month, its highest level in four years.
The unions are urging May to “mark a clear change in direction” with regard to the public sector in the Queen’s speech on Wednesday, when the monarch will set out the government’s legislative programme for the new parliament.