Friday, October 20, 2006

How much does Gordon Brown care for health workers?

It was only the other day I was complaining here about the plans of the local government employers to offer those of us who have the pleasure of working for them a pay rise of 2% to make up for our pay falling behind increases in the cost of living.

Now we learn that the Chancellor of the Exchequer wants health workers to get a miserly 1.5%. That’s well below the rate of inflation (in other words a cut in “real pay” – the purchasing power of earnings). The RCN aren’t wrong to describe this as a “slap in the face for nurses” but it is actually a slap in the face for all those whose pay is set by review bodies – and will set the tone for negotiations for the all other health service workers.

So much for social partnership? (Andy Burnham told a meeting of the NHS Social Partnership Forum last week that health staff “have delivered real improvements for patients in important areas such as waiting times and the big killers. I would like to thank all staff for their role in delivering these improvements and for providing good and safe patient care”.) 1.5% of thanks to go with the job cuts and privatisation.

Karen Jennings, UNISON Head of Health sums up the value of this pay offer rather well in today’s Guardian; “A 1.5% pay increase works out at less than 2p an hour extra for newly qualified nurses and paramedics.”

Still lets not blame the insignificant New Labour bag carriers when the responsibility for the latest attack on health staff belongs to Gordon Brown. Yes, that’s Gordon Brown who emphasises “listening, learning and working together”…

How many more attacks must Brown launch upon us before we remember who our real friends in Parliament are?

Still, no one can say Brown doesn't give tuppence for health workers I suppose...

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