Doctors 'encouraged' by Labour pledge to increase NHS pay

The BMA has said doctors will be 'encouraged' by a Labour party pledge to scrap the 1% pay cap in the NHS.

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth will say on Wednesday that pay in the health service would be increased under a Labour government and the NHS will ‘get the funding it needs’.

GP pay rises, in line with the rest of the NHS, have been capped at 1% since 2013/14. NHS pay was frozen for two years before the 1% cap was imposed.

Labour said that it would would return to collective bargaining based on the evidence of the independent pay review bodies and and would reinstate health education bursaries.

The Conservatives said only they could provide the leadership required for growing economy to fund the NHS. 

Last month the Doctors and Dentists Review Body (DDRB) said it was unclear how existing GP services could be maintained in the face of the growing GP workforce crisis.

NHS staff morale

Addressing a conference of Unison health workers in Liverpool Mr Ashworth will say NHS staff have been ‘ignored, insulted, undervalued, overworked and underpaid’ by the Conservative government.

He will say: ‘NHS staff have been taken for granted for too long by the Conservatives. Cuts to pay and training mean hard working staff are being forced from NHS professions and young people are being put off before they have even started.’

He will add: ‘I can pledge today that a Labour government will scrap the pay cap and give our NHS workers the pay they deserve. We’ll invest in their education and training. We’ll bring back bursaries which the Tories scrapped.’

BMA chair Dr Mark Porter said NHS staff would be ‘encouraged by this understanding of the damaging impact on their morale from the years of real-terms pay cuts and ongoing pay restraint that have led to vacant posts, understaffing and rota gaps.’

He said: ‘The NHS clearly does need more staff – there is a chronic shortage of GPs as well as doctors working in areas such as acute and emergency medicine. Fewer junior doctors are applying to train in key medical specialities across the board.’

GP shortage

Labour pledged it would introduce safe staffing measures including legislation requiring trusts to have regard for patient safety when setting staff levels and would ask NICE to consider legally enforceable staffing ratios. The party would introduce laws to ensure patient safety takes priority over financial considerations.

‘Safe staffing levels will be a priority for a Labour government,’ Mr Ashworth will say. ‘After seven years of Tory mismanagement our health services are dangerously understaffed. We are thousands short on the numbers of nurses, midwives, GPs and paramedics that we need.

‘Time and again expert reports have told us that staffing levels are linked to patient safety but the Conservative government has failed to deliver the numbers of extra staff that patients need.’

‘So the next Labour government will legislate ensure safe staffing levels in England’s NHS.

‘We will ask NICE to undertake work to set out how safety can be determined in different settings. And Labour will ask NICE also to assess whether there are health settings which would benefit from legally enforced staffing ratios.

‘By bringing in a new law to make safe staffing legally enforceable, Labour will ensure that finances never again take precedent over patient safety.

He will add: ‘‘And let me be clear we won’t make promises on behalf of the NHS without giving the NHS the resources and the tools to deliver those promises. The NHS under Labour will always get the funding it needs. That’s the difference between Labour and the Tories on patient safety.’

Conservtaive health minister Philip Dunne MP said: 'A strong NHS needs a strong economy. Only Theresa May and the Conservatives offer the strong and stable leadership we need to secure our growing economy and with it funding for the NHS and its dedicated staff.

'We’ve protected and increased the NHS budget and got thousands more staff in hospitals. But all that’s at risk with Jeremy Corbyn’s nonsensical economic policies that would mean less money for the NHS. Just look at Wales where Labour’s economic mismanagement mean they had to cut funding.'

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