Thank you to all those who have contacted me about NHS staff pay.
We owe all NHS staff our full support. Day in, day out, they make an incredible contribution to our health service. Their bravery and selfless dedication throughout the pandemic represent the very best of our society. I know that people in our constituency and across the country have the upmost respect and admiration for the work they do.
Despite the remarkable efforts of staff, I am concerned that years of neglect and mismanagement by the Government has resulted in record NHS waiting lists and chronic staff shortages. Our health service entered the pandemic with 100,000 vacancies. Years of pay freezes and burnout are affecting hard-pressed staff; work-related stress has increased, and mental health is consistently the most reported reason for staff absence.
Health professionals face ever-increasing pressures as the NHS continues to deal with backlogs that will take years to clear. Yet, for too long, they have been under-resourced and feel undervalued. A recent cross-party report concluded workforce burnout across the NHS has reached an “emergency level” and poses a risk to the future functioning of services.
Amidst a cost of living crisis, frontline workers will understandably be worried about their pay, particularly for the lowest paid who are struggling to make ends meet. At least six NHS trusts have set up food banks or launched voucher schemes for their workers as part of efforts to help staff cope with rising costs.
As you may know, NHS pay review bodies will make recommendations on pay shortly. I believe the Government must be proactive, engage with Royal Colleges and trade unions on the significant and immediate workforce challenges and respect their professional voice and experience on matters of pay, conditions and workload.
More widely, we need a credible plan to recruit, retain and train the staff our NHS needs to deliver safe, high-quality services. Without a robust long-term workforce strategy, our NHS will simply not be in a place to provide the support that patients need now and in the future. We know that valuing our NHS workforce, through fair pay and conditions, is crucial to retaining staff and tackling the many vacancies across the NHS.
Thank you once again for contacting me about this important issue.