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Jeremy Hunt under fire for voting against scrapping pay cap

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has been asked how the government can afford a £1 billion deal with the Democratic Unionist Party, but not to boost nurse wages in England.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has been asked how the government can afford a 1 billion deal with the Democratic Unionist Party, but not to boost nurse wages in England.

Mr Hunt was answering questions in the House of Commons on Wednesday, when the shadow health secretary, Labour's Jonathan Ashworth MP, said: 'The number of nurses has fallen for the first time in a decade, its why we need fair pay now. So I read in the newspapers that the health secretary now supports the Labour Party policy of scrapping the cap, although he didnt vote with us last week.

'Given that he now supports our policy, when he sets the remit for the NHS pay review body soon, will he tell them to scrap the cap and will he publish his instruction

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has been asked how the government can afford a £1 billion deal with the Democratic Unionist Party, but not to boost nurse wages in England.


Jeremy Hunt answering questions in the House of Commons
Picture: Nathan Clarke

Mr Hunt was answering questions in the House of Commons on Wednesday, when the shadow health secretary, Labour's Jonathan Ashworth MP, said: 'The number of nurses has fallen for the first time in a decade, it’s why we need fair pay now. So I read in the newspapers that the health secretary now supports the Labour Party policy of scrapping the cap, although he didn’t vote with us last week.

'Given that he now supports our policy, when he sets the remit for the NHS pay review body soon, will he tell them to scrap the cap and will he publish his instruction before the summer recess?'

Mr Hunt responded: 'Well I didn’t vote for his amendments because as usual Labour told us a lot about how they want to spend the money without having the faintest idea of where it was coming from. But I think he is ignoring an elephant in the room, which is, if we had followed the spending plans he campaigned for in 2015, the NHS would have £2.6 billion less this year, that’s the equivalent of 85,000 fewer nurses.'

Fairness

But, Mr Ashworth replied: 'I want to talk about the spending plans of 2017, where he can find a billion pounds for Northern Ireland, but nothing for nurses in England. Would it not be fairer, Mr speaker, not to go ahead with further cuts to corporation tax and put that money into giving our doctors and nurses a fair pay rise.'

The shadow health secretary was referring to a deal between the Conservative Party and Democratic Unionist Party to secure a majority in the House of Commons.

Mr Hunt said the Conservative Party had invested £6.9 billion in the NHS over the past three years.

He said: 'Under this government we have created nearly three million jobs, that’s a strong economy that is funding and improving the NHS.'

Meeting request

Also during the health debate, cancer nurse and MP for Lewes, Maria Caulfield, requested to meet with the under-secretary for health, Jackie Doyle-Price, to discuss the stalled Access to Palliative Care Bill, presented in the House of Lords.

The bill had proposed to make provision for equitable access to palliative care services, for advancing education, training and research in palliative care.


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