NHS staff work long hours, often in difficult circumstances, writes Sir Kevin Barron MP.
They do so much to make this country’s health service one to be proud of.
Yet despite their brilliant efforts, years of pay restraint and a failure by Government to invest in, and plan appropriately, for the workforce has resulted in 107,000 vacancies across the NHS.
Eight years of austerity has forced a significant real-terms cut in pay for NHS professionals.
Indeed, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) estimates that since 2010 nurses have suffered a real-terms drop in earnings of 14 per cent.
Despite claims by Ministers that the Government has lifted the pay cap, concerns remain that the deal proposed will still mean a pay cut when accounting for inflation.
I believe staff deserve assurances that ending the pay cap means real-terms increases, fully funded with new money.
At the last election, Labour pledged to end the pay cap for all public sector workers.
It budgeted for above-inflation pay increases and outlined plans to return decisions on pay to genuinely independent pay review bodies.
I remain concerned that workforce shortages are affecting the quality of patient care. Government reforms to higher education, which includes removing the student nurse bursary, have failed and the Chancellor ignored training budgets in October’s Budget.
I will continue to call for the reinstatement of the nurse bursary and bring forward a credible and long- term plan so that the NHS is able to recruit the doctors and nurses it needs.
More widely, I will do all I can to ensure that NHS staff and other public sector workers are paid at a level which recognises their skill and dedication.