Former health secretary Matt Hancock pushes back against doctors’ calls for pay rise

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Former Heath Secretary Matt Hancock today pushed back against calls from doctors and nurses unions, which are balloting members on whether they should strike over pay

Former Heath Secretary Matt Hancock today pushed back against calls from doctors and nurses unions, which are balloting members on whether they should strike over pay

Taxpayer cash should be spent on speeding up NHS treatment and operations rather than boosting doctors’ salaries, former Health Secretary Matt Hancock suggested today amid an NHS pay row.

Mr Hancock pushed back against calls from doctors and nurses for the Government to up its 4.5 per cent increase, which unions say amounts to a real terms pay cut.

He admitted the NHS is facing a ‘massive challenge’ as waits for elective and emergency care reach record levels months before the depths of winter, when the crisis is expected to get worse.

As the cost of living hit a 40-year high, Mr Hancock said taxpayers’ money needs to go ‘as far as possible’.

Cash ‘can either go on pay, or it can go on more treatments, more operations’, Mr Hancock said.

It comes as the British Medical Association, the Royal College of Nursing and Unite began balloting members across the UK on whether they should strike over pay.

Mr Hancock, who resigned from Cabinet last June after being caught breaking his own social distancing rules and kissing a married aide, also defended Rishi Sunak’s plans to fine anyone misses two NHS appointments in a row with a £10 fine.

The ex Health Secretary, who is backing Mr Sunak in the Conservative leadership contest, said the move would be ‘extremely reasonable’ — despite critics saying it would hurt the poorest families.

The number of people in England on the waiting list for routine hospital treatment hit a record 6.7million in June ¿ meaning one in eight are now stuck in the backlog

The number of people in England on the waiting list for routine hospital treatment hit a record 6.7million in June — meaning one in eight are now stuck in the backlog

Separate ambulance figures show the average wait for heart attack and stroke victims surpassed 59 minutes for only the second time ever (red bars). The yellow line shows the number of category two calls, which hit 379,460

Separate ambulance figures show the average wait for heart attack and stroke victims surpassed 59 minutes for only the second time ever (red bars). The yellow line shows the number of category two calls, which hit 379,460

Latest NHS England data for July shows that more than 29,000 sickened people waited 12 hours at A&E units last month (yellow lines) ¿ four times more than the NHS target and up by a third on June, which was the previous record. Meanwhile, the proportion of patients seen within four hours ¿ the timeframe 95 per cent of people are supposed to be seen within ¿ dropped to 71 per cent last month (red line), the lowest rate logged since records began in 2010

Latest NHS England data for July shows that more than 29,000 sickened people waited 12 hours at A&E units last month (yellow lines) — four times more than the NHS target and up by a third on June, which was the previous record. Meanwhile, the proportion of patients seen within four hours — the timeframe 95 per cent of people are supposed to be seen within — dropped to 71 per cent last month (red line), the lowest rate logged since records began in 2010

MATT HANCOCK BACKS PLANS TO FINE NHS APPOINTMENT NO-SHOWS £10 

Matt Hancock has backed controversial plans to charge NHS appointment no-shows £10.

The former Health Secretary, who is backing Rishi Sunak to be the next Prime Minister, said the plans are ‘extremely reasonable’. 

Mr Sunak last month called for a £10 fine for those who miss two or more GP and hospital appointments without giving sufficient notice.

He said it is ‘not right’ that people are not attending consultations, scans and check-ups and ‘taking those slots’ — more than 14million every year — away from people who need them.

But doctors warned the plans would hit the poorest and most vulnerable, discourage them from rebooking and worsen health inequalities.

However, Mr Hancock today said: ‘I think [it] is an extremely reasonable way of tackling a significant problem, which is pressure on our GPs’. 

NHS pay review bodies said the basic pay for nurses should rise by four per cent, while doctors and dentists salary should be bumped by four-and-a-half per cent. 

Mr Hancock told Radio 4’s Today programme he agreed with the figures.

He said: ‘On pay, it’s really important that we have this independent process, the pay review bodies.

‘And the big challenge on pay of course is that for any amount of money that we’ve got, it can either go on pay, or it can go on more treatments, more operations. 

‘With the backlog the scale that it is, the need to make sure that we have more action, more activity and make sure that that money goes as far as possible — that is absolutely critical. 

‘He would follow the pay review bodies, that’s what the Government has done for many years now.’  

However, the Royal College of Nursing said the proposed amounts leaves experienced nurses more than £1,000 worse off.

It urged its 465,000 members to support its ballot for industrial action, which opens on September 15, and called for a pay rise of 5 per cent above inflation, which is currently 11.8 per cent.

Meanwhile, 160,000 doctors could walk out, as the chair of the British Medical Association warned a strike is ‘inevitable’.

And Unite is balloting its health service members over the Government’s ‘miserable’ pay offer.

If all three strikes were to occur, up to 725,000 workers could go out on strike, more than half the NHS’s 1.4million workforce.

Meanwhile, nearly eight in 10 doctors in Scotland said they would be willing to take part in strike action for a pay offer above the proposed 4.5 per cent, according to a poll of 3,100 medics.

The dispute comes amid a growing NHS crisis, with record long queues for routine operations, emergency department performance dropping to its worst ever levels and 999 waits reaching nearly the longest they have ever been.

Mr Hancock said ‘there is a massive challenge facing the NHS right now’ due to the knock-on effects of the pandemic.

Mr Sunak gave the health service ‘all the money that was necessary’ to respond to the Covid crisis and ensure it was ‘protected all the way through the pandemic and never overrun’, he said.

But Mr Hancock admitted: ‘A whole load of operations that needed to happen [didn’t], and tests and diagnostics couldn’t happen and making sure we get through that backlog is critical. 

‘And Rishi has talked about this, he comes from and NHS family, his mother was a pharmacist, his father an NHS GP. 

‘He has also talked about some of the ways to tackle problems in primary care.

‘For instance, tackling the number of appointments that are just missed and the fact that a whole load of appointments — more than 10 per cent of them — are just not taken up.’

The would-be Prime Minister last month called for a £10 fine for those who miss two or more GP and hospital appointments without giving sufficient notice.

He said it is ‘not right’ that people are not showing up to consultations, scans and check-ups and ‘taking those slots’ — more than 14million every year — away from people who need them.

But doctors warned the plans would hit the poorest and most vulnerable, discourage them from rebooking and worsen health inequalities.

However, Mr Hancock said: ‘I think [it] is an extremely reasonable way of tackling a significant problem, which is pressure on our GPs’.

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