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Public support for NHS pay increase ‘overwhelming’

A survey commissioned by the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has revealed “overwhelming public support” for lifting the public sector pay cap imposed by the government.

The survey of over 2,000 people suggests that 84% supported scrapping the cap, and 83% feel that the NHS pay should be increased to match or exceed the cost of living.

Unions have recently called for an increase of 3.9% in line with the Retail Price Index’s measure of inflation hitting a high of the same, with an additional £800m injection to restore some of the pay that NHS workers have lost over the past seven years. Almost 70% of those questioned support this additional payment.

According to the survey, nearly three-quarters of the public support making more funding available so that the NHS Pay Review Body could recommend a higher pay rise if the government lift the 1% cap. The majority of those questioned also identified low pay as reasons for the exodus of staff from the NHS, as well as discouraging young people from choosing to pursue a career in the organisation.

RCM director for employment relations and communications, Jon Skewes, said: “This clearly shows how much the public value our hard-working midwives and other NHS staff. This government refuses to acknowledge that NHS staff have essentially had seven years of successive pay cuts, and it has also refuses to fund a fair pay award.

“What the government need to understand is that Investment in NHS staff is an investment in the service the NHS gives. We need a change in policy to give NHS staff fair pay and it must be funded by government.”

Unison head of health, Sara Gorton, added: “The government needs to stop the excuses and start listening to public opinion. Just talking about selectively lifting the pay cap isn’t good enough – the government must provide funding for the fair pay award the public wants to see.”

Meanwhile Chris Cox, director of member relations at the Royal College of Nursing, described the government as “out of touch with public opinion.”

And GMB national officer for the NHS, Kevin Brandstatter, said: “The public recognise that public service workers undertaking particularly traumatic roles, involving tragedies like the Grenfell Tower, deserve a significant pay rise.  It’s time the government recognised this too and fully funded the trade unions pay claim.”

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