The solidarity expressed through weekly applause for the NHS, carers and key workers has been truly inspiring, and a great source of support for all staff.
But we need those in power to do more than just clap for us. The NHS and local authorities have been starved of resources for the last ten years. The current crisis has been worsened by a decade of government hostility towards a publicly funded health service. Low staffing levels are a direct result of budget cuts and limits on pay.
We cannot go back to an NHS that lurches from winter crisis to winter crisis. The government should admit that their past approach to health and social care was wrong. There should be a review of pay for NHS and social care workers, which at minimum adds back money denied, compared to inflation, as a result of pay rises that have been capped for years at 1%. Below inflation pay rises are a cut in spending power. The public sector has been ‘awarded’ 1% for ten consecutive years; their wages have shrunk below pay growth in the private sector.
An apology and pay correction would be a starting gesture for people who are now accepted to be courageous, brave and essential to all of us. It turns the admiration shown on our streets every week into a tangible benefit, which would boost the morale of the people now working in dangerous and difficult circumstances.
We, the undersigned, acknowledge the supreme importance of NHS and social care staff. We recognise that they are indispensable.
We call on the government to:
Publicly and formally apologise to NHS and social care staff for past policies that led to a 1% limit on pay rises and cuts to the services in which they work.
Begin a review of wages and salaries for these workers that, at minimum, restores pay lost compared to inflation from 2010 to 2020, and sets above-inflation pay rises for 2021 and thereafter.
Fully fund the NHS and social care.