England is the only nation in the United Kingdom that has not given a pandemic payment to NHS workers, the Pharmacists’ Defence Association said on Friday (July 23).
Recently, some pharmacists and other NHS employees on ‘Agenda for Change’ contracts received 3 per cent pay rate increase from the UK government.
By contrast with the rest of the UK, no such payment or announcement has been made in England by either Matt Hancock or his replacement as health secretary Sajid Javid.
The PDA reminded everyone of the difference of approach of the Westminster government to health workers, compared to the other nations. This is an important part of the context in which NHS employees will now respond.
In December, the PDA welcomed the announcement from the Scottish government of their intention to provide a one-off payment from their funding to all staff working within the NHS, frontline primary care, adult social care sector, hospice and palliative care & residential childcare in Scotland.
For many pharmacists this was first financial acknowledgement they have received since the pandemic turned their professional lives upside-down. Jeane Freeman MSP, the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport in the Scottish government described this bonus as “A small contribution to recognise the value of these frontline staff to us all.”
The Cabinet Secretary went on to point out that “We don’t have the power to make it tax-free but Boris Johnson does. Time to do the right thing Prime Minister.”
In January, the PDA welcomed the announcement from the Northern Ireland government that they too would give £500 to all healthcare workers as a “special recognition” payment for their working during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Northern Ireland Health Minister Robin Swann said: “There are no words to properly convey what health workers have done for us, we will never be able to repay that debt“
Mr Swann also emphasised that “Thanking the health workers for their work through the pandemic was not enough.”
In March, the PDA welcomed the Welsh Government’s similar announcement. Vaughan Gething, Minister for Health and Social Services in Wales announced the one-off payment for NHS and social care staff, equivalent to £735 per person, to cover the basic rate of tax and national insurance contributions incurred, so that after deductions, most people would receive £500.
Vaughan Gething said: “Over the last year, Wales’ NHS staff and social care staff have shown a remarkable amount of commitment and courage from the initial outbreak of the pandemic right through to the current second wave. They will have suffered the impacts of the pandemic on their physical and mental health wellbeing in both their personal and professional lives”.