Lifting the 1% pay cap is crucial to addressing the retention and recruitment crisis in the NHS according to Jonathan Ashworth, Shadow Secretary of State for Health, during a parliamentary debate on pay restraint.
With more nurses and midwives leaving the profession than joining, almost half of NHS workers now believe that inadequate staffing numbers are preventing them from doing their jobs properly.
Janet Davis, Chief Executive of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), said ‘Ministers must listen to tens of thousands of nurses who are campaigning on this and put in writing that the cap no longer applies to NHS staff.’
Ashworth’s comments were made during an opposition debate which saw many MPs, from across the house, discuss the impact of the pay cap on the NHS.
Ashworth, quoting NHS Providers, said that ‘seven years of NHS pay restraint is now preventing them from recruiting and retaining the staff they need to provide safe, high-quality patient care. The NHS can’t carry on failing to reflect the contribution of our staff through fair and competitive pay for five more years.’
Blows were exchanged between Ashcroft and the Chief Secretary to the Treasury Elizabeth Truss when Ashcroft claimed that the median pay for public sector workers over the past 7 years has fallen in value by almost £4000. Truss dismissed this as ‘not true’, with other Conservative MPs accusing him of ‘talking down’ the service.
The debate saw comments from across the House as the opposition seeks to put pressure on the government to lift the 1% pay cap by trying to convince some Conservative MPs to ‘ignore Tory Whips and vote to get rid of the cap.’
With 14 unions representing nurses and other NHS staff yesterday demanding a pay rise of 3.9%, which they say would help alleviate some of the problems of staff shortages, the government is under increasing pressure to reconsider its position and formally commit to lifting the cap.