Labour calls on government to drop nurses’ leave day requirement

Chancellor’s spring statement promises £9 billion for NHS and social care, with more to come if management and unions agree on pay deal

Chancellor’s spring statement promises £9 billion for NHS and social care, with more to come if management and unions agree on pay deal

John McDonnell
John McDonnell in the House of Commons. Picture: PA

Labour has called on the chancellor to remove the requirement for nurses to swap one day’s annual leave for a pay rise above 1%.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell used his response to the Spring Statement to attack the government on the leaked pay deal, which suggests nurses could receive a 6.5% pay rise over three years.

Referring to Chancellor Philip Hammond, Mr McDonnell said: ‘We are expecting the pay offer to NHS staff shortly – forced on him by the Labour Party’s and trade unions’ campaigns against the pay cap.

‘Let me say to him, taking away a day’s holiday from those dedicated staff is mean spirited and I ask him now, will he drop this miserly demand?’

Economic hardship

Mr Hammond had told the House of Commons in his statement that, after a decade of economic hardship, there was ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ and indicated there would be further investment in public services later this year if forecasts are positive.

On the NHS, the chancellor said the government is investing £9 billion extra for the NHS and social care system, with £4 billion going into the NHS in 2018/19 alone.

Mr Hammond said: ‘As I promised in the autumn budget, more [funds] to come if management and unions can agree on a pay modernisation deal for our nations’ nurses and Agenda for Change staff, who have worked tirelessly since the autumn, in very challenging circumstances, to provide the NHS care that we all value so highly.’

Spring statement

He also signalled an £80 million investment in the apprenticeship levy for small businesses during the spring statement.

This could be used by GP practices, small community trusts and social care providers to pay for nurse degree and nursing associate apprenticeships.

Responding to the statement, Mr McDonnell said: ‘Hasn’t he listened to the doctors and nurses, the teachers, the police officers, the carers and even his own councillors?

‘They are telling him they can’t wait for the next budget. They’re telling him to act now ... The chancellor has proclaimed that there is light at the end of the tunnel. But this shows just how cut off from the real world he is.'

He later added that the chancellor and his predecessor had not tackled the deficit and had simply shifted it onto public services and NHS staff.

‘NHS Trusts will end this financial year £1 billion in deficit. Doctors and nurses are struggling and being asked to do more, while 100,000 NHS posts go unfilled.

‘Does the chancellor really believe the NHS can wait another eight months for the life-saving funds it needs?'

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