The Chancellor’s announcement of an extra £2bn for the NHS in today’s Autumn Statement is a panicked response to four years of under-funding and makes a mockery of the government’s claim to have protected the health service from spending cuts, says the TUC.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Any new cash for our much-loved health service is welcome – now more than ever, with the NHS in financial turmoil owing to the persistent under-funding of the past four years. But it’s significantly less than the government has already squandered on its pointless top-down re-organisation.
“With the election looming, ministers know how important an issue the NHS is to voters, suggesting the government is moving into panic mode – fearful that people simply don’t believe its claim to have protected the NHS.
“With talk of £12bn savings so far from freezing and holding down the pay of dedicated nurses, teachers and other public sector workers – and similar to come until the deficit disappears – the Chancellor is effectively freezing public servants out of the recovery. For six million public sector workers another four years of pay pain beckon as their pay continues to be held back below the cost of living.
“The government’s harsh public sector pay policy has already caused two national strikes in the health service. Rather than threaten more unfair pay austerity, ministers should show they value NHS workers and award them the pay rise the public knows they deserve.”