Care minister Helen Whately faced a backlash from MPs today in the House of Commons after failing to deliver the long-awaited announcement on the NHS staff pay rise.
Several media sources this week reported the Government would announce a 3% pay rise for NHS staff on Agenda for Change contracts in England this week. It was expected Ms Whately would do it this afternoon in the Commons, however, she said nothing about pay in her speech.
When questioned by MPs, Ms Whately said: ‘We are reviewing the recommendations from the pay review bodies – and will be making an announcement on pay in England in due course.’
Labour shadow minister for mental health Dr Rosena Allin-Khan said the failure to deliver the pay rise before the summer recess, which begins tomorrow, was an ‘insult of the highest order’.
She added: ‘Less than an hour ago there were competing briefings on what the deal was going to be but it turned out to be nothing. Our NHS staff deserve better than this’.
Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: ‘So what’s happened to the Government response to the NHS Pay Review Body? Our NHS staff deserve a fair pay rise not a pay cut.’
Liberal Democrat MP Munira Wilson said: ‘Words and clapping are cheap. Where on Earth is the widely reported and trailed pay deal announcement that was expected today?’
Meanwhile, nurses and doctors took to social media to share their outrage about the overdue pay deal, with some claiming the Government has treated NHS staff with ‘contempt’.
Responding to Ms Whately’s statement, Pat Cullen, RCN interim general secretary and chief executive, said the ‘treatment of our NHS workers is shameful’.
She continued: ‘Ministers need to stop the wrangling and come clean about the pay rise they believe NHS staff deserve. Nursing staff will only accept this pay award if it’s significant, consolidated and fully funded with additional monies.’
The delay comes after the NHS Pay Review Body submitted its pay recommendations to the UK Government at the end of last month. It was widely expected the pay rise announcement would be made before Parliament rises on Thursday.
The RCN has committed to consulting its members on whether they feel the award is adequate and what further action they wish to take. It set up a £35m industrial action strike fund when the UK Government suggested a 1% pay rise in March.
The Scottish Government agreed at least a 4% pay rise for NHS nurses in Scotland in May despite the RCN and the GMB rejecting the offer, instead pushing 12.5% and 15% uplifts respectively.
However, seven other unions accepted the Scottish deal – Unison, Unite, the Royal College of Midwives, the College of Podiatrists, the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, the Society of Radiographers and the British Dietetic Association.