A year after the coronavirus pandemic first started, the government has proposed a 1% pay rise for the NHS staff who continue to work tirelessly and risk their own lives in order to save others.
“We got our claps, what more did we expect?” That’s the response my friend, who works in a London hospital, shared this morning in response to the government’s proposed 1% pay rise for NHS workers. “Thank god we have all those claps saved up,” a colleague’s sister, who also works for the NHS, shared on her Instagram Stories alongside an eye-roll emoji.
Considering that Royal College of Nursing (RCN) general secretary Dame Donna Kinnair has warned this pay increase would mean just £3.50 more per week in take-home pay for an experienced nurse, their reactions to the news is understandable to most of us. Especially as there have been recent reports of nurses having to use food banks.
One of the biggest realisations of the pandemic is that we must always protect our NHS. Sure, we can show our support and gratitude by clapping, sending brownies and taking our learnings into consideration at the next general election. But adequate funding and making sure employees are paid what they deserve is what’s really needed here.
So, after all the sacrifices NHS staff have made in the pandemic and beyond, is a 1% pay rise really enough?
The RCN has called it “pitiful”, arguing that its members should get 12.5% instead. It’s also set up a £35m fund to prepare for possible strike action (a ballot will be held first). And Labour says NHS “heroes” deserved more money.
But the government insists 1% was “what’s affordable” at a difficult time for the public finances. Also, at least 1.3 million other public sector staff – including teachers, firefighters and police officers – are about to have their pay frozen for a year.
But what are people working in the NHS saying?
Critical care nurse Sam has shared a photograph that has since gone viral, writing alongside it: “PPE selfies were so last wave. But I’m more tired, more worn out and even more deflated after today’s news of a measly 1% pay rise for NHS Staff.
“I hope @theRCN make it clear in their statement, that we will no longer accept this rubbish treatment.”
Surgeon Roshana simply said: “We’re heroes until we ask for a pay rise.”
Palliative care doctor Rachel reminded people: “For nurses, the proposed 1% pay rise for NHS staff means a real-terms rise of just £3.50 per week.
“Please RT if you think that’s disgusting.”
And NHS clinician Dr Kelly asserted: “The #NHS has a huge backlog of work due to COVID19 distribution. It also has a tired and traumatised workforce. We need to do everything we can to motivate, support, appreciate and care for staff so they can continue to provide care for all. A 1% pay rise does not achieve this.”
If you want to show your support and help make the government take notice, there is an online petition to give NHS staff a 15% pay rise that you can sign for free.