Public Sector Pay Cap: NHS Staffing Levels

Oral Answers to Questions — Health – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 10th October 2017.

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Photo of Chris Matheson Chris Matheson Labour, City of Chester 12:00 am, 10th October 2017

What assessment he has made of the effect of the public sector pay cap on staffing levels in the NHS.

Photo of Marsha de Cordova Marsha de Cordova Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions) (Disabled People)

What assessment he has made of the effect of the public sector pay cap on staffing levels in the NHS.

Photo of Jeremy Hunt Jeremy Hunt The Secretary of State for Health

NHS staff do a fantastic job in tough circumstances, and pay restraint has been challenging for many of them. However, given the financial pressures, it is also true that the NHS would not have been able to recruit an additional 30,000 staff since May 2010 without the cap.

Photo of Chris Matheson Chris Matheson Labour, City of Chester

The NHS is short of 3,500 midwives and 40,000 nurses. What proportion of those numbers does the Secretary of State put down to the public sector pay cap?

Photo of Jeremy Hunt Jeremy Hunt The Secretary of State for Health

As I said in my previous answer, without pay restraint we would not have 11,300 more doctors in the NHS and 11,300 more nurses on our wards. The hon. Gentleman will know that we recognise that it was not sustainable to carry on with the 1% rise going forward, which is why we have been given the leeway to have more flexible negotiations next year.

Photo of Marsha de Cordova Marsha de Cordova Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions) (Disabled People)

Hospital wards and GP surgeries are chronically understaffed, and the knock-on effect is that waiting lists are spiralling out of control. Is it not in the best interests of patients to scrap the pay cap so that the NHS can be run with the relevant number of staff in place?

Photo of Jeremy Hunt Jeremy Hunt The Secretary of State for Health

I welcome what I think is my first question from the hon. Lady, and I can give her some good news: the pay cap has been scrapped.

Photo of Helen Whately Helen Whately Conservative, Faversham and Mid Kent

In the work that I have done in hospitals, staff have told me that they are most unhappy about too much reliance on temporary staff, rota gaps and not feeling valued, as opposed to issues around pay. The latter—not feeling valued—often goes hand in hand with poor management practices. What is my right hon. Friend doing about those causes of staff unhappiness?

Photo of Jeremy Hunt Jeremy Hunt The Secretary of State for Health

My hon. Friend, who has a lot of experience of working in the NHS, is absolutely right. The new Care Quality Commission inspection regime is designed precisely to identify good, strong leadership, because that has the best impact on staff and, through that, the best impact on patients.