Just over one year ago, my Dad went into Addenbrooke’s for the last time. It was the eleventh time in twelve months that he had been admitted. He was, as he said, on a very slippery slope. But the care he received from the NHS staff was second to none, as was that he received at his care home when he returned. Eventually he passed peacefully in his sleep in May.
The last time my Dad went into hospital was just before Covid hit. Since then, our NHS staff across the country have worked extraordinary hours, putting their lives on the line knowing hundreds of their colleagues have been lost to this terrible disease, holding the hands of our loved ones as they died. Many have found the stress of the situation so great their mental health has suffered severely. A recent study showed that nearly half of NHS staff working in critical care units during Covid have suffered PTSD, severe depression or anxiety, levels greater than combat troops. Sadly, despite many calls from Labour to address this, nothing has been done.
In January 2020, Conservative MPs voted to give NHS staff a 2.1% pay rise this year. In last week’s budget, Rishi Sunak advised NHS staff, such as the ones who Boris Johnson clapped every week and the ones who saved his life when he caught Covid, that they should get a real terms pay cut of 1%. Our MP Lucy Frazer and Cambridgeshire Conservatives are supporting this, claiming the Chancellor has to ‘balance the books’. But he is hitting the wrong targets. As well as NHS staff, there is a pay freeze on all public sector workers, the personal allowance for base rate and higher rate tax is frozen until 2026, bringing millions of people into paying tax or higher rate tax for the first time: a stealth tax. For the first time people like carers will pay tax, while people like matrons and senior teacher leaders will pay higher rate band tax.
Do you think that measures such as a real terms pay cut for nurses, doctors, and other NHS staff should pay for the mistakes of Johnson and Sunak? We don’t. If you agree, you can tell them on 6 May by voting Labour in the county council, combined mayor and PCC elections.