October: News from your local MP
Showing gratitude to the NHS
THIS year’s unprecedented pandemic has proven our NHS’s mettle more than ever. Coronavirus has given the word ‘frontline’ a very different meaning: our nurses, doctors, and care staff have very much been fighting a war on our behalf.
A universal, free at the point of access healthcare system that offers high-quality diagnosis, care and treatment for everybody, regardless of their background, is the hallmark of a civilised society. Against the backdrop of COVID-19, we are all more mindful of how lucky we are to have the NHS than ever, and it is important that we cherish and invest in the NHS to make sure future generations can have the same safety net as us.
For the avoidance of any doubt, despite sensational claims to the contrary, the NHS is not on the table so far as international trade negotiations are concerned. We all want to see a great trade deal struck with the United States that would enable us both to trade more freely and prosper together. However, the NHS will not be part of any future agreement with any country.
What we are doing with the NHS is giving it a cash boost of £34 billion by 2023/24. This is the largest, longest funding settlement in the history of the NHS. This landmark settlement investment to help secure the long-term future of our NHS is extremely welcome, and I hope you agree that it demonstrates the Government’s commitment to properly funding our NHS and public services. The NHS Funding Act has enshrined in law our fully-funded, long-term NHS plan.
There has been much talk about the impact that the lockdown due to coronavirus has had on our daily lives and, importantly, our mental health. I am pleased to hear the conversation being had and to see that the stigma around discussing mental health is beginning to erode after being a taboo subject for years. Mental health is central to the NHS long term plan, which is why the Government is making sure mental health services receive an increase in funding of £2.3bn, with a particular focus on children’s and young people’s mental health, giving 345,000 more children mental health support and giving more adults access to talking therapies.
It is also vital that we recognise and reward the hard work and skill of those working in the NHS for their efforts and sacrifices. NHS staff are playing an integral part of the national effort to combat coronavirus - and we owe them a great deal of gratitude for all that they do. I know the Government is committed to supporting all staff now and in the future. Its unwavering support for frontline staff predates this unprecedented challenge. In addition to the 6.5% pay rise over the three years, the starting salary for newly qualified nurses has also increased by more than 12 per cent and the Government has introduced a nurses' bursary which provides at least £5,000 of additional support to nursing students. Those on the lowest salaries in the NHS are seeing the largest proportionate pay rises: the lowest NHS starting salary has increased year on year from £15,404 to £18,005 in 2020/2021. Many nurses and healthcare assistants are enjoying pay increases of at least 2.5 per cent.
The fight against coronavirus is a continuing national effort; a huge thank you to the NHS for their service.