Nick Ferrari asks if NHS staff deserve 'disgraceful' 1% pay rise 'after saving PM's life'

5 March 2021, 09:49 | Updated: 5 March 2021, 10:31

By Fiona Jones

Nick Ferrari challenges health minister Nadine Dorries on the 'callous' 1% pay rise for NHS staff by listing Government spending devoted to other policies.

The Government cannot afford to give NHS staff in England a pay rise of more than 1%, Nadine Dorries has told LBC.

The mental health minister said that healthcare workers would be the only public sector workers to receive a pay rise while others would have their salaries frozen and that a further increase would mean the furlough scheme would become unaffordable.

Nick asked Ms Dorries how much the Test and Trace programme cost - which she incorrectly estimated as £20 billion, with its real price at £37 billion.

Nick continued: "Your Government can find £37 billion for a Test and Trace system that I think many accept could have done better, but you can't find anything more than 1% for nurses and other NHS staff, perhaps you'd like to explain why."

Ms Dorries told Nick that a year ago the Government's priority was about "saving lives and protecting the NHS" and the money spent on Test and Trace "was about doing just that, that was a priority of saving lives."

Nick cited the slimming scheme initiative announced on Thursday which will cost £100 million - he asked why £100 million could be found for this.

2.5 million of those who have died with Covid-19 were overweight or obese, Ms Dorries told LBC: "Public Health England believe that tackling the obesity crisis...if we want people to continue living long lives in good health."

She branded it as a priority as it saves lives, to which Nick pointed out that nurses save lives.

The health kick start scheme is about "saving lives and it's also about saving the NHS," the minister said.

She branded working in the NHS as "rewarding", to which Nick responded: "Rewarding? With a 1% pay rise?"

Former nurse Ms Dorries said she would have "loved" that pay rise when working in the NHS.

"I just wonder how the nurses and doctors who saved the Prime Minister's life will react to getting a 1% pay rise, those who worked 24 hours to save Boris Johnson."

It follows outrage from Labour and trade unions over the policy, accusing the Government of inflicting a "kick in the teeth" to health workers.

They said evidence to the NHS Pay Review Body from the Health Department was a "callous and an enormous slap in the face" for workers.

Unison head of health Sara Gorton said: "A 1% 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."