This year marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the NHS.
Our healthcare system - ranked as the best in the world in a recent survey by the Commonwealth Fund - is undoubtedly one of our most treasured pubic institutions and right across the board, NHS staff work tirelessly in the service of the public.
Despite austerity, public spending on the NHS has risen each year - from £98.4 billion in 2009/10 to £124 billion in 2017/18 (Kings Fund). However, whilst investment in services and treatments is paramount, it is also important that Government invests in the recruitment of new staff and rewards existing staff for their continued hard work and dedication.
For that reason, I am delighted that the Government recently agreed a significant pay increase with the NHS and trade unions which will see staff receive a pay rise of between 6% and 29% over the next 3 years. As part of the new pay reforms, some of the lowest earning NHS staff such as porters, cleaners and hospital caterers will see their wages rise by 15 % on average by 2021, whilst a newly qualified nurse will receive a starting pay that is 12.6%—nearly £3,000 - higher in 2020-21 than this year. In addition to this, further requests for new measures such as shared parental leave and the ability to buy extra or sell back annual leave, have been agreed to help improve their work-life balance.
Furthermore, in the last week the Health Secretary has also announced that the Government will fund the training of over 3,000 additional midwives and that in the areas of greatest need, five new medical schools have been given the green light by the Department of Health to train new clinicians. As part of this scheme 100 additional doctor training places will be created each year at Aston University’s Medical School, who I recently visited and have been proud to advocate on behalf of during their bid for funding.
Together, these measures demonstrate that the careful management of our economy, and the strict approach the Government has taken to reducing the deficit and getting the public finances under control are indeed allowing for us to invest more in the services that we all care so much about.
Rt Hon Dame Caroline Spelman MP
Photo: Dame Caroline visits Solihull's urgent care centre at Solihull Hospital.