Health and Social Care Workers: Recognition and Reward

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:13 pm on 25th June 2020.

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Photo of Nicholas Fletcher Nicholas Fletcher Conservative, Don Valley 2:13 pm, 25th June 2020

We have clapped and we have clapped. In fact, the country clapped week in, week out for eight weeks, and we all embraced it—so much so that, when we did not, we missed it. There is no taking away from the fact that this pandemic has been tragic for many people, and to those who have lost loved ones, what can we say? Our heart goes out to you. There is really nothing worse. For those who have lost their jobs, it is tough. I have lost mine before, and I know it is tough and how hard that can be.

The clapping—yes, the clapping—became to many a symbol of a country coming together and of thanking the ones on the frontline. They are the ones who, in effect, were coming out of the trenches every day to save people who had caught this terrible virus. I can only imagine how it would have felt for myself or my wife going to work and knowing that one of us would be coming into contact with this deadly disease, which could be taken home. Even worse would be knowing that I would, at some point in the day, see someone die, and such deaths would be reported on the news each night. Some might say, “Well, that’s what nursing is about.” Some might say, “You must get used to it.” Some might say, “It’s just another day.” Some might, but I will not: I was not there, so how can I? What I can say is that I am glad that they were there for us. Thanks to this Government, the efforts of the frontline staff and our national effort, we are coming through this. There is light at the end of the tunnel. In fact, it is within touching distance—so much so that we can now start to reflect on what we have all been through.

This motion comes after several petitions calling for us to recognise and reward our health and social care workers. When I last counted, 200,000 people, including 245 of my own constituents, had signed one of these petitions calling for our frontline staff to receive the recognition they deserve. I keep saying “frontline staff” because I think that many thanks should go to the doctors, carers, nurses, porters, cleaners and everyone else who makes up the frontline in our NHS and social care sector—those who, when many in the country were furloughed and spending time with their families, were putting themselves at risk and missing time with their loved ones. For many in these frontline jobs, Easter was cancelled, and many have worked back-to-back shifts.

We must remember that we may not all end up in hospital during our lives, but there is a good chance that we may spend some time in a nursing home, so carers there, who are pretty much all on the frontline, need recognition too. Some of them really went the extra mile, as they never went home at all to keep the virus away from their residents. Every night the Government have taken time to stand in front of the nation and tell us where we are with this virus, but they have never given us the figures for the people our carers have put back on the road to recovery. This is difficult with care homes—