The Prime Minister, Theresa May, has refused to acknowledge that her party’s treatment of nurse’s pay in the NHS has forced a rising number of staff to use food banks to survive.
Theresa May was questioned on the Andrew Marr show on the BBC this morning and it was put directly to her that it is unacceptable that nurses have to use food banks after – in real terms – a 14% pay cut during the Tory administration since 2010.
He said to her that many people do a job he wouldn’t be able to do, and that she herself probably wouldn’t do, but that nurses have faced a 14% pay cut and needing to use food banks. She was asked “That’s not the kind of country you want to run, is it?”
She replied, without answering the initial question, “I want to run a country that works for everyone, not just the privileged few.
“When you look at basic pay together with progression pay they have a pay increase of, on average, a 3% pay rise.”
“Progression pay” as Ms May puts it, is an increase which is paid each year to nurses on successful completion of that year’s professional development plan, but only until the nurse reaches the top of their pay band. Once that happens, nurses then face the indignity of being given a £5 a week pay rise while watching MP’s receive yet another pay increase of £25 per week.
Marr once again pressed the Prime Minister, telling her, “There are nurses going to food banks at the moment, that must be wrong.”
However, refusing to be drawn in to answering an actual question, Ms May said that “there are many complex reasons why people go to food banks.”
There is one very simple reason why people use food banks, Ms May. It is because they cannot afford to buy food.
Nurses are not alone in being at work and being unable to make ends meet, and Ms May should be forced to answer the question of why, when she says that the way out of poverty in this country is to get into work, there are working people who still rely on food banks to survive.
Former minister Angela Eagle took to Twitter to criticise Mrs May’s “appalling refusal to recognise the human cost of Tory cuts”.
Senior Labour figure Yvette Cooper posted: “This is Theresa May’s style – rigid rhetoric far from reality, from school budgets to nurses pay, Brexit to tax”.
On June 8th, we urge you to vote for anyone but Conservative. Save our NHS.