Public money has been frittered away but NHS pay is a vital investment

The biggest cost for all of us will be if the government fails to invest in the NHS workforce

Commenting on the Public Accounts Committee report into the test and trace service set up by the government, UNISON head of health Sara Gorton said today (Wednesday):

“A successful test and trace programme was essential if the virus was to be controlled and further spikes prevented.

“But huge sums of money were spent on sub-standard parts of the system.

“Billions have been frittered away. And existing public health contact-tracing expertise ignored.

“Recognising the immense effort of NHS staff during the pandemic would be a far better use of public money. It would cost a fraction too.

“A decent pay rise is affordable, will lift flagging staff morale and prove popular with the public. It would also protect the NHS and boost struggling local economies.

“The biggest cost for all of us will be if the government fails to invest in the NHS workforce. The chancellor and PM must do the right thing and give staff what they’ve more than earned.”

On Thursday evening at 8pm, health unions are urging the public to show support for health staff with a slow hand clap demonstrating their displeasure at government proposals for a 1% pay rise.

Notes to editors:
– The slow hand clap will take place on Thursday 11 March at 8pm.
– UNISON is calling on the government to give all NHS workers a pay rise of at least £2,000.
– Health workers are currently in the final year of a three-year deal. They’re due a pay rise in April but unions have been campaigning for the government to show its appreciation for NHS employees by bringing that forward. The government failed to commit to this last summer when wage increases for 900,000 workers elsewhere in the public sector were announced. A rise has now been promised by the chancellor but not until after the formal NHS pay review body reports back in May. This is likely to mean that NHS staff will not get a pay rise until July at the earliest, say the unions. Health secretary Matt Hancock has also said the increase must be determined by ‘affordability’ and Rishi Sunak has warned of restraint in future public sector pay awards.
– UNISON is the UK’s largest union, with more than 1.3 million members providing public services in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in the public, voluntary and private sectors.

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