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Labour Is Forcing A Commons Vote To End Health Workers' Misery

27/06/2017 17:37 | Updated 27 June 2017
Chris J Ratcliffe via Getty Images

On Wednesday in the House of Commons, Labour will force a vote on ending the Tories' public sector pay cap.

For too long, the Tories have pegged wage rises for public sector workers below the cost of living, with a cap of 1% a year.

The effect for the health service has been devastating. NHS wages have fallen some 14% below inflation since 2010.

The Government has created a workforce crisis in the NHS which is causing financial chaos for hospitals and causing misery for patients. We are 10,000 GPs, 3,500 midwives and now 40,000 nurses short of the number we need.

Nurses are being forced to use foodbanks to make ends meet and NHS Providers say that staff are quitting the NHS to stack shelves instead. The Health Secretary says he has sympathy for underpaid health staff but sympathy won't put food on the table.

More than a million people work in the NHS - the health service is its staff. And as a result, what's bad for health staff is bad for their patients too.

Staff shortages mean higher waiting times, shorter appointments and fewer services. Tired, overworked staff cannot be expected to continue providing the quality of care that we want our families and loved ones to receive.

The truth is that the tide has turned against the Government. The pay freeze was rejected by the public at this election. Scrapping the cap was one of the first, and most popular, pledges which Labour made during the election campaign.

The mood was caught by the nurse on TV who asked the Prime Minister about the pay freeze and was told there was "no magic money tree" - an insult to our brilliant NHS staff who have worked so hard to keep the service moving in the face of this Government's neglect and disinterest.

People are starting to ask why there is over a £1billion which can be found for the DUP in Northern Ireland, but still nothing for public sector workers in other parts of the country.

It's time to put an end to this self-defeating policy. The Government has pushed the NHS to the brink, and needs to step in now to provide proper support to those who care for us when we need it most.

So the Labour front bench has tabled an amendment to the Queen's Speech which "calls on the government to end the Public Sector Pay Cap and give the emergency and public services a fair pay rise".

The vote will come at the end of the day's debate about health, security and social care.

Labour are calling for MPs from all sides to put aside their differences and back our brilliant NHS staff.

By working together, MPs have the chance to put an end to this damaging and divisive pay cap, and make sure the nursing staff, paramedics, midwives and other key workers who care for us when we need it most are paid at a level which recognises the skill, training and dedication which they bring to our health service every single day.

Jon Ashworth is the shadow health secretary and Labour MP for Leicester South

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