HEALTH workers demanded an end to the years-long public-sector pay pinch yesterday in a damning letter to Theresa May.
Sixteen unions and royal colleges told the Prime Minister that the NHS pay freeze was unfair and endangered public safety, adding that Tory austerity was a “significant factor” in her embarrassing general election performance.
The letter urges Ms May to use the Queen’s Speech to “mark a clear change in direction” and end the NHS pay cap.
Health workers have been subject to a 1 per cent cap on pay increases for six years, which has meant a 14 per cent real-terms pay loss over that period.
The letter says: “The public-sector pay cap has forced professionals out of jobs they love. Those who stay are overstretched and under pressure to do ever more with less.
“The longstanding cap stands in the way of recruiting and retaining the best in healthcare.”
Anger has grown among NHS staff as the years of “restraint” go by, with some health workers reporting they’d been forced to rely on foodbanks.
A flustered Ms May said the reasons for this were “complex” when challenged during the election campaign in a rare interaction with the public.
She went on to dismiss a nurse’s complaint about NHS pay by telling her that there was “no magic money tree.”
The Royal College of Nursing announced it would ballot members for industrial action for the first time in its 112-year history if the government is not prepared to end the pay cap.
A consultative ballot showed 91 per cent would be prepared to take industrial action.
A Department of Health spokesman said: “The support and welfare of NHS staff is a top priority.
“The government is committed to ensuring they can continue to deliver world-class patient care.”