HCSA warns Chancellor to back up NHS pay pledge or risk post-Covid exodus

HCSA - the hospital doctors’ union has issued the following response to the Chancellor’s Comprehensive Spending Review statement today (25th November 2020):

HCSA President Dr Claudia Paoloni said: “Today the Chancellor rightly put the NHS at the heart of his plans, highlighting the health emergency which has embroiled hospital doctors and colleagues over the course of this unprecedented year.

“He made welcome pledges on budgets, on PPE and on the buildings in which we deliver care.

“But the Covid pandemic has exposed starkly the short-sighted underfunding of the key component in our NHS - its workforce.

“The real-terms erosion of wages since 2010 has contributed to a systemic understaffing, leaving the same hospital doctors to do more and more without respite.

“Unsurprisingly, increasing numbers were seeking to exit the profession even before Covid hit.

“As the cost of Covid is paid in the physical and mental health of those delivering the response, we fear this exodus will only worsen. We cannot afford to alienate medical staff further.

“It is striking, therefore, that while £37 billion is being ploughed into the flawed test and trace system, the Chancellor’s vague commitment to ‘take into account’ the recommendations of the pay review bodies represents the weakest possible pledge he could make to front-line staff. It is the policy equivalent of kicking the can down the road.

“The government must now prove that its vow to recognise the crucial role of NHS staff in combating the pandemic is more than a PR exercise. That starts with the remit letter to the pay review body.

“The ongoing sacrifices and contribution made by hospital doctors in this exceptional year must be recognised.”