NHS payrise: The government giveth with one hand and “puncheth in the face” with the other

Actor Ralf Little has described the government’s plans to increase NHS pay in exchange for sacrificing a day’s holiday as a way of giving with one hand and “repeatedly punching in the face with the other”.

The Royle Family star has been a vocal critic of Jeremy Hunt’s handling of the health service, outing the health minister for using fake statistics in regards to mental health provision.

And he isn’t overly impressed with the governments offer of a 6.5 per cent pay rise over the next three years for NHS staff in return for a day’s holiday.

Tweeting following the announcement, he said: “They giveth with one hand, they puncheth repeatedly in the fucking face with the other.”

Around a million health service staff are in line for a pay rise following years of freezes.

The Treasury and Department of Health and Social Care plan to propose that all non-medical NHS staff in England receive a 3 per cent increase in their salary in 2018-19 – the current rate of inflation – and then rises of 1 per cent – 2 per cent in the following two years.

Nurses, midwives, healthcare assistants, ambulance staff and all other workers except doctors and dentists would benefit from the scrapping of the hated pay cap. Doctors and dentists have a separate pay review system.

The deal has been presided over by the 14 health unions, but there are worries that it could be derailed by ministers’ determination that staff forfeit a day’s holiday in return for the pay rise.

Many staff already do regular unpaid overtime and have seen their real incomes cut by up to 14 per cent by the years of austerity-era tiny rises.

But government negotiators have made clear that staff working one extra day a year is a “red line” that for them is non-negotiable. If union members refuse to accept that, ministers will withdraw their offer in its entirety.

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