Matt Hancock declines to promise pay rise this year for NHS nurses

Health secretary quizzed on unions’ call for ‘real-terms’ pay offer in light of effort during COVID-19 pandemic

Health and social care secretary in England, Matt Hancock  Picture: BBC

Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock appeared to skirt around the subject of a pay rise for NHS workers in light of the pandemic, when he appeared on the BBC's The Andrew Marr Show.

The RCN and 13 other unions sent a letter to the prime minister and the chancellor on 3 July urging them to open pay discussions early, with the aim of introducing a pay rise this year.

‘I want to see people properly rewarded – absolutely’

Matt Hancock

Mr Hancock, appearing on the show on 5 July, was asked about giving NHS workers a pay rise as a response to their work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The existing three-year NHS pay deal

Appearing to make reference to this year's 1.7% pay rise, agreed as part of a three-year deal in 2018, he would not commit to any further offer.

He said: 'The good news is there is already an agreed pay rise. So we will absolutely ensure we recognise the work that front-line staff in the NHS have done.'

Pressed on whether he wanted to see a 'real-terms' pay rise for nurses this year, he added: 'I want to see people properly rewarded – absolutely.'

Unions argue nurses' pay has dropped by 14.9% in real-terms since 2010.

A decision for government

Speaking on the same programme, NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said: 'Of course we want to see NHS staff properly rewarded. Those will be decisions the government will have to take later in the year.'

Meanwhile, Labour leader Keir Starmer called on the government to make an immediate commitment to talks on a pay rise for NHS workers.

'We know that valuing our NHS workforce, through fair pay and conditions, is crucial to tackling the many vacancies across the NHS,' he said.

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