The government have asked the NHS pay review body to not give the 1% increase in wages to Nurses this year – this means that 1.3 million staff will not see their basic pay rise as per the rest of the public service. With inflation at 2.7% at the moment they were going to effectively get a 1.7% pay cut, and with this intervention from the government we could see them fall even further behind.
A lot is always made of public sector workers pay and pensions. Those in the private sector often point to the job security and the healthy pension provision that those nurses, teachers, civil servants and others will receive and say they will benefit at that point. While it’s true the end of working life arrangements are quite good you have to knock your pan in for forty years to get to that point and the stats for life expectancy are not the best for those in the public sector post-retirement. It’s no use pointing at the pension if workers like nurses cannot afford to live, pay rent, buy food, afford fuel and many other costs they incur in day-to-day life.
If you consider the average nurse starts around £21,500 (which is at Band 5 – those on Band 1 will start as low as £14,200) and expect them to be able to afford the current cost of living then you don’t understand what it is like for those in that position. The thing with the public sector is that the options for changing to another company for more money – as is done in the private sector all the time – is unlikely. There isn’t a job market, it’s a fixed wage structure that doesn’t allow for geographic location – the same as teaching. Over the last three to four years all those paid from the public purse have effectively had an over 10% wage cut in real terms due to freezes in pay and reduced increases. Can we really expect the NHS to survive without these people?
There were figures out only last week about the amount of Police leaving the profession and I know that teaching is the same. We all realises the economic issues – but it wasn’t nurses, police, teachers or civil servants that caused the collapse of the international economy – why should they be punished. More to the point why should the government pick on the nurses to say they should suffer even more when they are working such long hours and many in poorly maintained buildings. We should find the money for these people because without them nothing else happens. Pupils don’t get taught, the sick don’t get care, crime doesn’t get tackled.
This Tory led government has long pined for a privatised NHS to open up the competition and have done their damnedest to try to run it to the ground to leave no other option. While competition will perhaps help with the pay it will not help with the care and job. It will cause divides between rich and poor in a system that was made to be universal – care at the point of requirement for all. If they can justify tens of billions of pounds (£80bn by the latest estimates) for the High Speed Rail link between London and Birmingham they can find the money to pay nurses a living wage for the most difficult of jobs.
Cameron is quick to praise the “hardworking” in the NHS but has failed to back that up with the support in terms of finance the system really needs. Time to ask yourself the question Dave – do you want a National Health Service that stands for the best in fairness and treatment, or do you want a run down, demoralised, tired and angry system that neither the public or the workers want. Simple decision Mr Cameron – NHS or Bust?