7 March 2021
This statement originally appeared on the ZeroCovid website
The recommendation by the Department of Health that a 1% pay rise for NHS staff is the most the country can afford is an outrageous slap in the face to those who have worked tirelessly for the past year to keep us safe from Covid, with many giving up their lives in the process.
NHS pay has already fallen by 20% in real terms since 2010, which is a significant reason for the staff shortages that have made responding to the pandemic so difficult. We need a fully staffed, well paid and sustainable NHS to cope with the challenges that lie ahead, not least of which is Long Covid. A decent pay rise for all NHS workers is the very least we can do after everything those workers have done, and continue to do, for us.
To try to excuse this disgraceful pay rise on the grounds that the rest of the public sector is having their pay frozen completely adds insult to injury. The astronomical deficit for 2020 is entirely the fault of Rishi Sunak and the rest of the Johnson government. Their decision to prioritise corporate profit over public health over the course of this pandemic is the sole cause of the current parlous state of the public finances.
If instead, they had implemented a Zero Covid strategy, as many other countries have done, we wouldn’t be in this mess at all. Working-class people have suffered the brunt of this catastrophe, both economically and in lost lives, while the corporate elite has gorged itself on generous government contracts and subsidies.
The rich have stayed safe and further enriched themselves over the past year. They should now pay for the crisis that their greed has engendered.