The Tories have long discarded the NHS — therefore the pay controversy is unsurprising
In the US, the global gag rule has forever been a cultural and logical difference with the two major parties. The executive order prohibits medical and legal assistance to NGOs that grant abortion services to disadvantaged women in poorer countries. Since 1981, the ruling has been adopted or rescinded by every Republican and Democratic administration respectively. To pander to their religious base, conservatives have reviled its pro-choice connotations, whilst Democrats use it to showcase their liberalism and stance on female autonomy.
The global gag rule marks a sheer divide in the American political sphere. The same can be said for the NHS in the UK, rivalled by big government foes and proponents of state intervention. The NHS is envied around the world for providing universal free healthcare to Britons. When the Tories are in office, they do everything possible to strip parts of the beloved institution from government control.
When chancellor Rishi Sunak delivered the budget last week, he announced a meagre 1% pay rise for the millions of NHS workers who have faced a harrowing workplace during the worst pandemic in hundred years. The Royal College of Nursing has discussed strike action in response to the budget and implored the public to return to their doorsteps and clap at their condemnation of the news.
Many wondered whether Sunak and his boss, Boris Johnson, would be more generous to NHS staff considering they’ve extended the furlough scheme various times and U-turned on their decision to provide free school meals to children in dire need. But protecting and rewarding the NHS will never be Tory policy, as shameless and horrifying that may seem under this excessive strain on healthcare workers . History tells us that previous Conservative governments have stayed true to form when rewriting UK health policy and this government is no different.
Under David Cameron, the Health and Social Care Act 2012 oversaw the dismantling of primary care trusts, a vast privatisation initiative and new foundation trusts competing for funding. This legislation has a torrid legacy now healthcare inequality has increased rapidly and every winter the NHS faces gruelling circumstances under extremely tight budgets. When the NHS was founded back in 1947, the incumbent Attlee Labour government faced excoriation and hostile opposition from their Tory counterparts. Led by Winston Churchill, the opposition voted against the NHS 21 times as they were afraid it was turning the country into a “National Socialist economy”.
Like their predecessors, Johnson and his ministers are adopting the same tactics with the NHS and dismissing public opinion. The 1% pay rise has sparked controversy across the nation and already adds to their abysmal handling of PPE during the height of the pandemic. Voters should not be blind to Sunak’s small-state ideology when he has been splashing the cash. Although the Treasury have orchestrated a spending splurge, their disdain for state-control institutions are plain to see.
Giving NHS frontline workers an offensively minute pay rise is a nefarious way for this government to display their thoughts on British healthcare. Not only have NHS staff treated Covid patients and protected them from the virus, they are now giving out the vaccination to millions of Brits every month. The RCN’s repudiation of the pay rise is welcome and the majority of the public are on side.
The repeated U-turns on their own policies have shown the government to be incompetent and calamitous at best. However, a U-turn on the 1% is necessary to allow for a fairer and just pay rise for frontline workers. Public opinion on Brexit, the economy and the end of austerity have defined Johnsonism. It is now time the prime minister listens intently to the pro-NHS electorate and gives a pay rise that healthcare workers truly deserve.