Labour pledges pay rise for 'undervalued' NHS staff
NHS workers who have been "undervalued, overworked and underpaid" by the Conservative Government will get a pay rise if Labour wins the election, the shadow health secretary will announce.
Jonathan Ashworth will say NHS staff have been "taken for granted" by the Tories with cuts to pay and training forcing workers out of the health service and putting off young people.
This has led to short staffing which is a threat to patient safety, Mr Ashworth will say.
Labour will therefore lift the 1% cap on pay rises for NHS staff and move towards public sector wages being agreed through collective bargaining and the evidence of independent pay review bodies.
It will also legislate to require NHS trusts to have regard for patient safety when setting staffing levels, as "Tory mismanagement" has left the health service "dangerously understaffed".
It will ask Nice (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) to assess whether legally enforced staffing ratios should be introduced in some health settings.
The party will also reinstate funding and support for students of health-related degrees and incentivise NHS jobs to boost staffing levels.
At the Unison Health Conference in Liverpool, Mr Ashworth will say: "Our NHS staff are the very pride of Britain. Yet they are ignored, insulted, undervalued, overworked and underpaid by this Tory government. Not anymore. Enough is enough.
"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. Now Brexit threatens the ability of health employers to recruit from overseas.
"What is bad for NHS staff is bad for patients too. Short staffing means reduced services and a threat to patient safety. Labour's new guarantees for NHS staff will help keep services running at the standard which England's patients expect. "
Conservative health minister Philip Dunne said: "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 means they had to cut funding."
But the move was welcomed by unions.
Jon Skewes, of the Royal College of Midwives , said: "These are very welcome commitments from the Labour Party.
"They recognise the effort, determination and commitment on the part of our hard-working midwives and other NHS staff to deliver the safest and best possible care for those using the NHS.
"This announcement also shows recognition of the folly and short-sightedness of scrapping bursaries for student midwives, nurses and related professions.
"We would now want to see all parties making similar commitments to pay NHS staff fairly, and staff and resource our NHS so that it can meet the demands being placed on it."
TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: "Under the Government's current plans, NHS workers will lose thousands of pounds from their salaries. This is unfair, it will demoralise staff and it will increase the number who decide to quit.
"We hope all the parties will make an election pledge to scrap the unfair pay restrictions and give our hard-working NHS staff the pay rise they deserve."
Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said NHS staff are "struggling to get by" on below-inflation pay rises and lifting the 1% cap would make them feel valued.
"A decent wages increase would also help ease the crisis in staff recruitment," he said.
"There are too few nurses, paramedics and midwives in the NHS to deliver the best care, and this is putting patients at risk."
Liberal Democrat health spokesman Norman Lamb said his party would raise taxes to pay for the NHS and social care.
He said: "This is a complete shambles. Labour have already spent this money 10 times over.
"They are hopelessly divided, have no credible plan for the economy and are clearly unfit for government."