Hancock refuses to promise pay rise for NHS staff

Health secretary challenged to reward workers with ‘meaningful’ above-inflation hike in salaries

Andrew Woodcock
Political Editor
Monday 16 November 2020 17:58
Matt Hancock says it's 'too early' to say whether lockdown will end on 2 December
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Health secretary Matt Hancock has refused to guarantee a post-Covid pay rise for NHS staff.

Mr Hancock was speaking in response to a question from The Independent at a 10 Downing Street press conference on the coronavirus crisis.

The health secretary was challenged to promise NHS staff exhausted from the long months of fighting coronavirus that they will receive a “meaningful” above-inflation pay rise, to bolster morale, boost recruitment and help keep patients safe.

He replied: “As you know we have an independent pay review process. We've concluded a three-year agreement with nurses and in fact we've just concluded a long-term agreement with junior doctors as well.

“So, though you tempt me, I'm not going to prejudge the outcomes of the independent pay review process.”

Mr Hancock acknowledged that NHS workers will face a big increase in workload as vaccines come on stream for millions of people across the UK.

“I know the pressures that the Covid vaccine rollout will put onto people across the NHS,” said the health secretary. 

“It isn’t just GPs - although GPs and teams around primary care, primary care nurses and pharmacists will play an important role. It’s right across the NHS.

“There will be work to do to get this vaccine rolled out.

“And I also know that there are a number of uncertainties that will make planning harder. But it doesn’t make planning impossible, so it’s critical that we get all that lined up so that we are ready to go from the start of December.

“I want to thank in advance everybody who is involved, in the NHS and more broadly, in the rollout of the vaccine. It’s going to be a big job.”

England’s deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van Tam said the vaccination programme will be “the biggest and most important thing the NHS has done for a very long while”.

He added: “I do understand the workload pressures, but I do also believe it will be incumbent upon every one of us to put in extraordinary efforts to make this programme go as fast as we can consistent with the available supplies and with the highest uptake we can possibly manage."

Prof Van Tam said: "This is a big opportunity to change the way the pandemic will roll out over 2021. It isn’t going to produce an overnight result, it isn’t going to affect the second wave that we are now in. 

“But it could very dramatically change what the late spring and the summer start to look like.

“That’s how big the prize is, and therefore it’s really important that everyone pushes so hard on this. Not just the workforce, but also the public in terms of coming forwards for the vaccine and being ready when you’re called.”

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