Cllr Sarah Barber, a nurse at Ipswich Hospital and Ipswich Borough Councillor
Cllr Sarah Barber, a nurse at Ipswich Hospital and Ipswich Borough Councillor

NHS workers, Unions and Labour have condemned the silence of Suffolk’s MPs after the news that nurses will receive just a 1% pay rise, a decision which could result in a real-terms pay cut.


The government made its recommendation for NHS worker pay to the NHS Pay Review Body. The 1% rise would amount to only an extra £3.50 per week take-home pay for an experienced nurse, but due to expected inflation rises, could result in a real-terms pay cut.


At least 1.3 million other public sector workers have already had their pay frozen by Rishi Sunak. This includes teachers, police, firefighters, the armed forces, and council staff.


In the last few weeks, Tom Hunt, Conservative MP for Ipswich, refused a meeting with NHS staff to discuss pay and conditions. Cllr Sarah Barber, a nurse at Ipswich Hospital and Ipswich Borough Councillor, says she feels ‘betrayed’ by the lack of support from the MP. She said:


“I love my job and am used to working in a stressful, challenging environment caring for patients, but this year has been the toughest I have ever faced. Having to go to work despite not always having the right PPE; worrying about the impact that being exposed to Covid-19 will have on myself, friends and family; seeing the impact this has had on my patients and community has been almost overwhelming.


“We weren’t expecting a huge increase in our wages, but we certainly didn’t expect a real-term cut. It’s insulting – Boris Johnson is clapping for us one minute, then cutting our income the next.


“I’ll be honest and say that I feel betrayed by Ipswich’s MP, Tom Hunt. We asked him to meet nurses like me and other key workers so we could discuss pay and conditions, but he refused. He might not agree that we deserve a pay rise, but he should’ve at least had the courage to come and talk to us. Instead, he hid away knowing that a real-terms pay cut was on its way.”


Cllr Helen Armitage, the opposition spokesperson for Health and Adult Care, added: 


“Suffolk’s Conservative MPs have been more than happy to accept their ever-increasing salaries over the last decade, yet have forced through a 7% real-terms cut to nurses pay packets over the same time period. As Health Secretary, Matt Hancock should be standing up for our heroic NHS staff in Suffolk and across the country but is presiding over wage and funding cuts.


“This is a real kick in the teeth for our heroic NHS workers that have given everything to fight the virus and keep us safe over the last year. Instead of recognising key workers with the proper pay rise that they deserve, the Tories have handed out dodgy contracts to their mates and wasted £37 billion on the still failing track and trace.”


UNISON Eastern head of health Sasha Savage commented:     


“No wonder the chancellor had nothing to say about the NHS in his budget. A one percent pay rise is the worst kind of insult the government could give health workers who’ve given their absolute everything over the past year. 


“The public will be horrified. Staff will think it’s some kind of joke.  


“Ministers should hang their heads in shame, go back to the drawing board and come up with the kind of pay rise that matches the astounding efforts staff have gone to in the past year. 


“The entire NHS workforce will now expect to see the pay review body come up with a much more sensible and realistic recommendation than this laughable suggestion from the government.” 

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