Hunt hints at flexibility over NHS pay
JEREMY Hunt has said NHS staff ‘deserve to be well paid’ as he reacted to a letter sent by unions to fellow Surrey MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond, calling for a 3.9% pay rise.
Speaking at St Peter’s Hospital, in Chertsey, last Friday, the Health Secretary was asked whether the staff he had met deserved the pay rise, which 14 health unions, representing more than a million workers, called for.
He said: “I think NHS staff certainly deserve to be well paid because they do a fantastic job, I don’t think they’ve ever worked harder.
“It’s a stressful job, they’re on their feet a lot, they’re often working extra hours pro bono and, of course, I want to recognise that.
“At the same time, we’re not in a vacuum, we have to recognise there is a national economic context which is extremely challenging.
“The financial crisis was 10 years ago this week and we’re still getting over that, so it’s a very, very difficult issue, but what the government has said this week is that we will be flexible.
“We will look at the recruitment and retention issues in different sectors, and there are certainly plenty of those issues in nursing, and we will look at what we can do on productivity improvements.
“So we won’t have that rigid 1% across the whole public sector, and that I think allows us to have much better conversations with people like the Royal College of Nursing.”
The MP for South West Surrey was visiting St Peter’s, Frimley Park Hospital and the Royal Surrey County Hospital to speak about patient safety.
Mr Hunt said: “I’m talking to all the trusts about patient safety issues, which has been probably the big theme of my time as Health Secretary.
“We have some of the safest care in the world in the NHS but we still have 150 avoidable deaths every week across the system and that’s not right, so we had a really positive discussion about what we can do to change that.”
When asked about whether he had come to any conclusions as to how these deaths could be avoided, Mr Hunt shared his goal of the NHS becoming ‘the world’s largest learning organisation’.
He added: “We did come to a consensus that the most important thing is to support staff who want to be open and transparent about something that may have gone wrong but are worried that if they do so there will be litigation, they will be hauled in front of the General Medical Council or the Nursing and Midwifery Council or the Care Quality Commission.”
“Really, if we are going to transform safety we need the NHS to become the world’s largest learning organisation where people are supported because all of us, we’re all human beings, we all make mistakes.
“Doctors and nurses happen to have had the courage to do a job where the price of making a mistake can sometimes be a tragedy, and the most important thing that everyone wants in those situations is to learn from what went wrong so that we can make sure it doesn’t happen again.”