Why can’t we give nurses a fair pay rise? Letter to the editor

Dear Editor,

I am puzzled.

The one clear thing to emerge from the Brexit referendum campaign was that we would stop paying £350 million each week to the EU, and instead spend it on our wonderful NHS.

I calculate that £350 million a week is just over £18 billion a year. It is difficult to get hold of an up-to-date figure for the NHS’s annual pay bill, but (from the Kings Fund website) the total NHS annual pay bill in 2016/17 (at the time of the referendum) was about £47.6 billion.

Assuming pay increases roughly in line with inflation since then, the current NHS pay bill must now be a little more than £50 billion. So by my calculations we could now easily afford to give all these NHS staff not just the 15 per cent they are requesting, but a proper ‘thank you’ 20 per cent pay rise (costing about £10 billion), and still have about £8 billion left over to spend on much needed hospital equipment and medicines. And that’s just the first year of savings……….

So why all this fuss and difficulty in paying NHS staff a mere 3 per cent pay rise, when there is now more than enough money to pay 20 per cent? I just don’t understand. It should be so easy.

Or could it possibly be that the Leave side lied? Could it possibly be that the £350 million a week we were told we paid to the EU (actually only about half that figure) was part of a more complex equation? An equation which meant that, thanks to our membership of the EU’s Single Market and Customs Union, we got back far more than we paid in, by way of frictionless trade with by far our biggest trading partner.

Yes, could it be that the Leave side lied? And that we have done something very foolish in leaving the EU, something that will in reality leave us worse off than we would otherwise have been?

Yours in frustration,

David Love

PS: All is now clear. Project Fear became Brexit Reality…and it seems nurses (and the rest of us) are paying the price.