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Labour to force vote on end to 1% pay cap amid ’10,000’ GP shortage

The Labour Party is planning to force a House of Commons vote to end the 1% cap on public sector pay rises on Wednesday.

Labour’s shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said this comes as the NHS is ‘10,000’ GPs short and urged fellow MPs to ‘vote with their conscience’ to end the ‘hugely damaging’ cap.

The vote will come at the end of the scheduled debate on heathcare legislation that was announced in last week’s Queen’s Speech.

This is because the party has added an amendment which ‘calls on the Government to end the public sector pay cap and give the emergency and public services a fair pay rise’.

A Labour spokesperson told Pulse the vote is expected to take place at 7pm Wednesday evening.

Mr Ashworth said: ‘The Government’s public sector pay cap has been hugely damaging for the NHS. We are 10,000 GPs, 3,500 midwives and now 40,000 nurses short of the number we need. The Government has created a workforce crisis in the NHS which is causing financial chaos for hospitals and causing misery for patients.’

He said that this comes as ‘nurses are being forced to use foodbanks to make ends meet and NHS Providers say that staff are quitting the NHS to stack shelves instead’.

He added: ‘The Health Secretary says he has sympathy for underpaid health staff but sympathy won’t put food on the table.

‘Today, Labour is giving MPs the chance to vote with their conscience and vote in favour of NHS patients, by voting to put an end to this damaging, divisive and self-defeating pay cap.’

The news comes as Welsh health secretary Vaughan Gething announced he has written to health secretary Jeremy Hunt to demand an end to the pay cap, ‘so that we can give our hardworking health service staff the pay rise they deserve’.

The cap, which has also been applied when UK governments have decided GP contractual uplifts, has been in place since 2012.

The Labour Party called for its removal in the general election campaign, and health secretary Jeremy Hunt has indicated he would review it for nurses.

The party’s Queen’s Speech amendment also calls for end to police and fire service cutbacks.

It comes as doctor leaders reacted to the speech last week saying it offered ‘nothing’ to NHS or general practice.

Commenting on this evening’s vote, which will be the first of the new Parliament, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: ‘You can’t have safety and security on the cheap. It is plain to see that seven years of cuts to our emergency services has made us less safe; it’s time to make a change.

‘Our emergency service workers make us proud at the worst of times for our country, such as the Grenfell Tower Fire and the recent terrorist attacks, and deserve the pay rise they have been denied for seven years.

‘Conservative cuts have failed. Labour has a different approach, which values those who look after us and will transform Britain for the many not the few.’

The full amendment reads:

‘…but respectfully regrets that that Gracious Speech fails to end cuts to the Police and the fire service;

commends the response of the emergency services to the recent terrorist attacks and to the Grenfell Tower Fire;

calls on the government to recruit more police officers and firefighters;

and further calls on the government to end the Public Sector Pay Cap and give the emergency and public services a fair pay rise.’