A 1% pay rise for NHS workers is “the most” the government can afford due to the economic cost of the COVID crisis, a health minister has said in an interview with Sky News.
Nadine Dorries said: “We did not want nurses to go unrecognised – or doctors – and no other public sector employee is receiving a pay rise, there has been a pay freeze.
“But the 1% offer is the most we think we can afford, which we have put forward to the pay review body.”
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN), who have called for a 12.5% pay increase for nurses, said a 1% pay rise would amount to only an extra £3.50 a week in take home pay for an experienced nurse.
Ms Dorries, a former nurse, admitted “everybody in an ideal world would love to see nurses paid far more”.
But she stressed there had been “huge borrowing and cost to the government” due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Nurses have had a 12% increase in pay over the last three years, the average nurse’s salary is around, quite rightly, £34,000 per annum,” she added.
Labour’s shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth has said the’ claim a 1% pay rise was the most the government could afford was “shocking, disgusting” and “an absolute kick in the teeth”.
“We’ve got NHS staff on the frontline battling to save people’s lives, we’ve got NHS staff delivering the vaccination programme,” he said.
“And a 1% pay rise is derisory – in fact, if the estimates for inflation come true, it’s a pay cut. This government is cutting the pay of nurses who are fighting to save the lives of covid patients, they should be ashamed.”