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Labour Party hints it will remove cap on GP pay increases

The Labour Party will scrap the year-on-year 1% cap on pay for NHS staff if it wins the general election in June.

The party said this comes after NHS workers have suffered ‘seven years of neglect’ under the last two governments.

Asked by Pulse, a spokesperson said that the pledge would also be likely to benefit GPs.

He said that although the pledge related to staff employed by the NHS, it would affect the uplift negotiated for GPs.

He said: ‘It would have a knock-on effect on the GP contract.’

This comes as successive governments have negotiated GP contractual uplifts intended to translate to no more than a 1% increase in GP partner take-home pay.

Labour said its policy would see:

  • ‘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 precedence over patient safety’;
  • ‘Fully funded education which prepares our NHS staff to be the best in the world’.

Speaking at the Unison Health Conference in Liverpool, Labour’s shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth will say that NHS staff are ‘ignored, insulted, undervalued, overworked and underpaid’ by the current Government.

He will say that a Labour-led Government ‘will legislate to ensure safe staffing levels in England’, and ‘will ask NICE to undertake work to set out how safety can be determined in different settings’.

It will also ask NICE to ‘assess whether there are healthcare settings that would benefit from legally enforced staffing ratios’.

Mr Ashworth will say that ‘by bringing in a new law to make safe staffing legally enforceable, Labour will ensure that finances never again take precedence over patient safety’.

He will add: ‘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.’

BMA chair Dr Mark Porter said: ‘NHS staff will be encouraged by this understanding of the damaging impact on their morale from the years of real terms pay cuts and ongoing pay restraint that have led to vacant posts, understaffing and rota gaps.’

He said: ‘The NHS clearly does need more staff – there is a chronic shortage of GPs as well as doctors working in areas such as acute and emergency medicine. Fewer junior doctors are applying to train in key medical specialities across the board.

‘At a time when GPs are unable to keep up with the number of patients coming through the surgery door and hospital doctors are working under impossible conditions, politicians must outline how they will address the £30bn funding gap in the NHS.

‘Tackling this issue head on is absolutely vital if we are to provide the NHS that delivers the high-quality care patients deserve.’