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Nurses and hospital porters are due to get a new pay announcement "shortly" after plans for a measly 1% rise provoked fury.
Pressure is growing on Boris Johnson to U-turn and improve the below-inflation rise after the NHS was awarded the George Cross – but not a real-terms salary hike.
In a letter to the entire NHS on its 73rd anniversary today, the Queen said the medal would show "our enduring thanks and heartfelt appreciation".
But Boris Johnson is still dithering over whether to improve his 1% pay offer for 2021/22 for more than a million Agenda for Change staff – who include nurses, porters, cleaners and healthcare assistants.
Critics say the 1% is not a real pay rise because inflation is running at around 2%.
The independent NHS pay review body submitted its report to government the week before last – and staff are now waiting for Health Secretary Sajid Javid to respond later this month.
Boris Johnson clapped for carers last year, so where is their real-terms pay rise?
(Image: 10 Downing Street/AFP via Getty)
So far he has refused promise a better pay rise, even if it's recommended by the review body. Instead he said: "I’ll do whatever it takes to make sure they get everything they need".
But care minister Helen Whately today repeatedly hinted there will be a new announcement in the pipeline.
She told Times Radio: "Back last year in the autumn, the Chancellor said that because of the economic situation, while in general public services would be having a pay freeze, that wouldn't apply to the NHS.
"NHS staff would get a pay rise and there'll be announcements on that in law shortly."
Speaking to LBC Radio she went on: "We need to look at the recommendations from the independent pay review bodies on NHS pay.
The George Cross is for acts of heroism
(Image: AFP via Getty Images)
"I can’t say now but there is going to be an announcement on pay for NHS staff. So that’s really important."
It comes after criticism from unions and the Labour Party. GMB national officer Rachel Harrison said: "Ministers need to focus on protecting our NHS workers – who are exhausted – not on more restructures and reorganisation which will cause chaos and confusion at the worst possible time.
“Rather than clapping, if the Government wants to mark this birthday they should support our campaign for a 15% pay rise for NHS staff."
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Celebs including Dragons' Den dragons, comedians David Baddiel and David Schneider, and singer Beverley Knight have all taken part in a video today praising NHS staff on the service's 73rd anniversary.
Deborah Meaden of Dragons' Den said: "The NHS is a national treasure, and over the last year the staff have put their all into saving lives. We just wanted to show our appreciation for everything they have done."
A letter was penned by the monarch announcing the award
NHS staff take part in the clap for carers last year
(Image: Getty Images)
Labour MP and A&E doctor Rosena Allin-Khan, who helped arrange the video, said: “The pandemic has placed pressure on our NHS like never before.
“For 73 years, it has been there for us when we have needed it most – welcoming us into the world, treating us in times of crisis, and providing comfort when we have lost our loved ones.
“After a year of such sacrifice, our NHS staff need more thanks than ever before. Thank you for looking after our country when we have needed you more than ever.”