Health and social care workers have been at the heart of the fight against coronavirus, working day and night to protect the country and save lives. They do so much to make our health service one to be proud of and they deserve our respect, admiration and full support.
From the very beginning of the outbreak health and care staff have made great sacrifices, yet many of those on the front line have been undervalued and underpaid for too long. I believe we owe them and the whole country a vision of a better future when we come through this pandemic.
In July, the Government announced a pay rise for NHS doctors and dentists. However, the announcement excludes nurses, midwives, hospital porters and other NHS staff. Many other public sector workers – including those working on the front line in social care – have been left out.
Ministers have said that decisions on pay for wider NHS staff are not due to be reviewed until 2021 when the current pay deal ends. However, I believe it is important to show our NHS staff the same commitment they have shown our country during this pandemic.
I support calls for the Government to make an immediate commitment to pay talks for NHS workers. As we know, valuing our NHS workforce through fair pay and conditions is crucial to tackling the many vacancies across the health service. I believe any new deal for NHS workers must be agreed as soon as possible, in recognition of the bravery and sacrifice shown by healthcare staff during this pandemic.
NHS and care staff, many of whom are exhausted and fearing burn-out, need more than Thursday evening clapping. They have been asked to give so much and too often they get so little in return. The Government should recognise and reward NHS and care staff with a guarantee of a decent pay rise.
I can assure you that my Opposition colleagues and I will continue to push the Government to properly honour and reward the NHS staff who have put their lives on the line for others during the coronavirus pandemic.