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Labour promises pay rise for nurses and other NHS staff

Shadow health secretary pledges to scrap the cap and ensure safe staffing for ‘undervalued, overworked and underpaid’ nurses if it wins the general election.
Jonathan_Ashworth-Alamy.jpg

The Labour Party has pledged a pay rise for undervalued, overworked and underpaid nurses and other NHS workers if it wins the general election.

Speaking at the Unison Health Conference in Liverpool today, shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth will make three key pledges for NHS staff:

  • Scrapping the cap on NHS pay.
  • Reinstating the NHS student bursary.
  • Legislating on safe staffing levels.

Mr Ashworth will say: Our NHS staff are the very pride of Britain. Yet they are ignored, insulted, undervalued, overworked and underpaid by this Tory government. Not anymore. Enough is enough.

Scrap the cap

I can pledge today that a Labour government will scrap the pay cap and give our NHS workers the pay they deserve, he will say.

The Labour Party has pledged a pay rise for ‘undervalued, overworked and underpaid’ nurses and other NHS workers if it wins the general election.


 Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth will pledge to remove the NHS pay cap. Picture: Alamy

Speaking at the Unison Health Conference in Liverpool today, shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth will make three key pledges for NHS staff:

  • Scrapping the cap on NHS pay.
  • Reinstating the NHS student bursary.
  • Legislating on safe staffing levels.

Mr Ashworth will say: ‘Our NHS staff are the very pride of Britain. Yet they are ignored, insulted, undervalued, overworked and underpaid by this Tory government. Not anymore. Enough is enough.

Scrap the cap

‘I can pledge today that a Labour government will scrap the pay cap and give our NHS workers the pay they deserve,’ he will say. ‘We’ll invest in their education and training – we’ll bring back bursaries, which the Tories scrapped.

‘We are thousands short on the numbers of nurses, midwives, GPs and paramedics that we need. The next Labour government will legislate to ensure safe staffing levels in England’s NHS.’

Labour’s NHS commitments have been welcomed by heath unions. RCN general secretary Janet Davies said the college had long campaigned to scrap the 1% pay cap and that nurses’ pay packets had been cut by 14% in real terms.

‘Political choice’

She said: ‘It is a political choice to increase investment in health and social care and we call on all political parties to go further and commit to the long-term funding that patients and services need.’

The Royal College of Midwives said Labour’s pledges recognised the efforts of hardworking midwives and other NHS staff to deliver the safest and best possible care.

But Labour’s pledges were dismissed by other political parties. Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Norman Lamb said: ‘This is a complete shambles. Labour has already spent this money ten times over.

‘They are hopelessly divided, have no credible plan for the economy and are clearly unfit for government. The Liberal Democrats will be honest with the British people about the bold solutions needed to tackle the NHS and care crisis.

‘We have been clear that we will raise taxes to pay for the NHS and social care.’

Conservative response

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme that NHS staff ‘are working harder than they have ever worked before – we have said that the biggest priority for NHS staff is to get more staff on the wards’.

‘When I arrived as health secretary we had seen a decline in numbers of nurses on the wards and we are up by nearly 12,000 now.’

He added that cutting the bursary for undergraduate nursing students in England from August this year was a ‘difficult decision’, but said the changes mean more nurses will be trained in the future.

‘The reason we have taken that very difficult decision is precisely because we want to train more nurses and, as a result of that policy change, we can train record numbers in the next few years.

‘We still expect around two applicants for every nurse place even after the changes and we recognise it is always difficult when you bring these changes through, but actually applications do recover and our priority is to get more nurses into wards and community settings.’

He added that a good Brexit outcome was critical for future health and social care funding and that details would be set out in the Conservative party election manifesto.


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