A GOVERNMENT recommendation to increase pay for nurses and other healthcare staff by 1 per cent has angered Worcestershire staff, a union representative has said.

Su Lowe, lead officer for health for the Unite union in the West Midlands and who worked in the NHS for more than 30 years, has now warned of possible industrial action, should members back it in a ballot.

“Contempt is the word that came to mind,” she said.

“If you can’t pay the bills, look after your family on a decent wage, you are not going to stay working for the NHS.

“If the government doesn’t step up they will pay the price because in a year’s time people will have walked away. We are already short staffed.

“I’m hearing a lot of people saying they would like to consider industrial action, who I would never have expected to.”

Lynn Denham, who was a Labour parliamentary candidate for Worcester at the last election and worked as a hospital pharmacist and senior NHS manager, said she “couldn’t believe it” when she heard the proposed rise.

Mrs Denham said: “I watched the budget, a very glossy performance, and then the detail unfolds afterwards.

“Let’s not forget nurses, and healthcare staff, have put their lives on the line literally every day at work for us, our relatives.

“They have been working in that high risk environment, then going home to their loved ones.

“It is not acceptable, warm words don’t pay the bills.

“There are also huge gaps the chancellor is doing absolutely nothing about.

"Giving less money to the NHS in the next year when there are still Covid patients, there are lots and lots of people waiting for surgery - the spend was needed to catch up.”

But Robin Walker argued the proposed increase was on top of a higher rise under a previously agreed three-year deal.

Mr Walker said: “It is one per cent on top of the rises already agreed, so the pay rise for a newly qualified nurse is eight per cent, for a newly trained doctor is 12 per cent.

“There are some big pay rises already agreed as part of the spending review, and already in place.

“We are seeing record levels of recruitment into the NHS, both nurses and doctors, so the package agreed before the pandemic hit, and the 1 per cent increase, is showing we can continue to attract people on a strong basis.”

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