Today, Wednesday, Labour have announced their three point election guarantee for NHS staff:
- Pay increased to a sustainable level which reflects the complexity of the work carried out
- Safe staffing levels put into law so that finances never take precedent over patient safety
- And fully funded education which prepares our NHS staff to be the best in the world
After seven years of neglect by the Conservative Government, Labour will make sure NHS staff are properly supported to provide the best possible quality of services for patients.
Jonathan Ashworth MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, speaking at the Unison Health Conference in Liverpool, will say:
“Our NHS staff are the very pride of Britain. Yet they are ignored, insulted, undervalued, overworked and underpaid by this Tory government. Not anymore. Enough is enough.
“NHS staff have been taken for granted for too long by the Conservatives. Cuts to pay and training mean hard working staff are being forced from NHS professions and young people are being put off before they have even started. Now Brexit threatens the ability of health employers to recruit from overseas.
“What is bad for NHS staff is bad for patients too. Short staffing means reduced services and a threat to patient safety. Labour’s new guarantees for NHS staff will help keep services running at the standard which England’s patients expect.
“I can pledge today that a Labour government will scrap the pay cap and give our NHS workers the pay they deserve.
“We’ll invest in their education and training. We’ll bring back bursaries which the Tories scrapped. Our ambition is nothing less than ensuring the best trained health staff in the world.
“This will mean better quality of care for patients as well. We will never compromise on patient safety.
“Safe staffing levels will be a priority for a Labour Government. After seven years of Tory mismanagement our health services are dangerously understaffed. We are thousands short on the numbers of nurses, midwives, GPs and paramedics that we need.
“Time and again expert reports have told us that staffing levels are linked to patient safety but the Conservative Government has failed to deliver the numbers of extra staff that patients need.
“So the next Labour government will legislate ensure safe staffing levels in England’s NHS.
“We will ask NICE to undertake work to set out how safety can be determined in different settings. And Labour will ask NICE also to assess whether there are health settings which would benefit from legally enforced staffing ratios.
“By bringing in a new law to make safe staffing legally enforceable, Labour will ensure that finances never again take precedent over patient safety.
“And let me be clear we won’t make promises on behalf of the NHS without giving the NHS the resources and the tools to deliver those promises. The NHS under Labour will always get the funding it needs. That’s the difference between Labour and the Tories on patient safety.”
Notes to editors
Increasing NHS pay to a sustainable level:
Labour will lift the 1 percent NHS pay cap imposed by the Government which is artificially holding NHS wages below inflation and causing a health recruitment crisis
Labour would make a return to public sector pay agreed through collective bargaining and the evidence of independent pay review bodies.
The move will help to address staffing shortages in the NHS by improving morale and increasing retention of staff, reducing the current reliance of health employers on agency staff and overseas recruitment
Legislating for safe staffing:
Labour will introduce legislation requiring NHS trusts to have regard for patient safety when setting staffing levels in their hospitals.
Labour will ask NICE to recommence work to support trusts to judge safety in different settings. This work was started in November 2013 but then dropped under the current Government in June 2015. Labour will reinforce the work carried out by NICE by giving it a new legal basis.
Labour will ask NICE to assess whether there are health settings which would benefit from legally enforced staffing ratios.
This new legislation will ensure that patient safety always takes priority over financial considerations when staffing levels are being set in England’s NHS.
Fully funded education for health professions:
Labour will reinstate funding and other support for students of health related degrees
The move will incentivise more young people to train to work in our NHS so that health employers can access the numbers of staff they need to keep patients safe
Labour will commission evidence on the equality impact of the Tories’ decision to remove funding from degrees predominantly taken by older and female students and will review what other support can help mature students to undertake health degrees