Good morning everyone. I will be running the blog today so feel free to drop me a message on Twitter with any suggestions for coverage.
The Labour leader, Keir Starmer, has called for NHS staff to get a bigger pay rise after the government decided on 1% next year, despite Boris Johnson’s effusive praise for their efforts during the pandemic.
Starmer tweeted: “You can’t rebuild a country by cutting nurses’ pay. Give our Covid heroes a pay rise.”
Nurses and doctors accused ministers of not valuing health service personnel highly enough after the recommendation that more than 1 million staff should receive only a small increase.
The Department of Health and Social Care has submitted its proposal to the NHS pay review body, which will decide in May how much of a salary uplift the vast majority of NHS staff across the UK should get in 2021-22. The 1% rise would apply to all staff apart from junior doctors, GPs and dentists.
If the review body accepted the department’s advice, “a pay award as poor as this would amount to only an extra £3.50 per week take-home pay for an experienced nurse”, said Dame Donna Kinnair, the chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing.
In a series of interviews on Friday morning, health minister Nadine Dorries defended the 1% rise for NHS staff in England, saying the government could not afford to offer a higher wage increase – although she conceded that “in an ideal world” nurses would be paid more.
Dorries said that nurses have had a 12% pay increase over the last three years (though this only applies to newly-qualified nurses).
Asked if there were any chance for a higher rise, Dorries said the discussion is “above her pay-scale” and “every recommendation will be valued and discussed”.
Budget documents have revealed there is a planned cut of £30bn in day-to-day spending at the DHSC from April of this year, falling from £199.2bn to £169.1bn.
Asked about the cut, the health minister said: “That 30 billion, I believe, was a reduction on the pandemic spending – there are actually real-time increases going into the NHS budget year on year. That figure, I’m afraid, is completely wrong – that’s not on our annual funding of the NHS, that was on our pandemic budget, which is completely separate.”
Here’s today’s agenda:
09:30, social impacts of Covid-19 survey;
09:30, research on Covid and job vulnerability;
12:00, weekly Covid infection survey.
Matt Hancock, the health secretary, will also be hosting a press briefing this afternoon.