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Most people continue to back decent pay rise for NHS staff, survey suggests

AS DOCTORS said they felt burnt out from their workload, new research shows that the majority of people still back a decent pay rise for NHS staff.

A survey of 2,000 adults by the country’s 14 health unions published today shows that most people support a proper wage increase for health workers after the government’s recommendation of a below-inflation 1 per cent pay rise provoked widespread fury.

Almost two-thirds feel that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s offer, made in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic, is too low.

The unions are warning that more than a million NHS workers are still waiting for a pay rise, which was due on April 1; the NHS pay-review body is not due to report to ministers until later this month.

Unite and the GMB union have backed calls from grassroots campaign groups such as NHS Workers Say No for a restorative 15 per cent pay rise for health staff after a decade of real-terms cuts by the Tories.

Unison general secretary Christina McAnea said health staff should have been looking forward to “extra money in their pockets this month, but instead they’re still waiting.

“It’s clear public support for a proper rise is as high as ever. The PM must do the right thing by trying harder to find the money for the increase staff deserve,” she said.

Royal College of Nursing acting general secretary Pat Cullen said: “If politicians ignore NHS workers and the public, it’s inevitable more nurses will leave the profession, with patients and the wider public suffering as a result.”

A poll published by the British Medical Association (BMA) yesterday showed that thousands of exhausted doctors, battling stress and burnout, plan to quit the NHS in the next year.

Half of the 2,000-plus respondents said they planned to work fewer hours; a quarter said they were “more likely” to take a career break; a further 21 per cent warned that they were considering leaving the health service altogether.

BMA chairman Dr Chaand Nagpaul described the potential departure of “talented, experienced professionals” who have kept the NHS going during the once-in-a-generation crisis as “deeply worrying.”

And Royal College of Midwives general secretary Gill Walton warned the government that it must value health workers if it wanted to retain them and recruit more. 

She said: “Better pay is affordable and has public support. I urge the government to show it cares for and values [NHS workers] by awarding a decent deal.” 

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