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MP demands ‘the right environment’ for NHS staff as government lifts public sector pay cap

PUBLISHED: 17:05 13 September 2017 | UPDATED: 17:05 13 September 2017

Helen Whately in the House of Commons

Helen Whately in the House of Commons

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Helen Whately told the House of Commons she was concerned about poor management practices in the health service

A Kent MP has welcomed a move to scrap the public sector pay cap - but insisted more needs to be done to tackle poor management practices in the NHS.

The government announced on Tuesday it was to lift the cap which has limited rises to a maximum of one per cent for the past seven years.

Helen Whately said the growing cost of living in Kent meant local healthcare professionals needed to be recognised with “a fair and sensible pay settlement” but claimed money was not the main concern among NHS staff.

Speaking in a House of Commons debate, the Faversham and Mid Kent MP said: “I welcome the government’s decision to lift the pay cap and to do it in a responsible way.

“But the pay cap has served its purpose; it was necessary back in 2010. It is a significant driver of the cost of the NHS and the public sector and public finances were running totally out of control.

“The pay cap was all part of restoring financial discipline restoring confidence in our economy and restoring growth which is what we are enjoying at the moment and thanks to which there are now millions more people in work.

“I welcome the more responsible approach of this government which will not be a blanket pay rise but rather drawing on the guidance of the next pay review body for the health service and making pay rises where they are most necessary.

“I for instance am very aware in my constituency in the south east there is a high cost of living which is particularly affecting some people on the lowest pay in the public sector and I do hope they may be recognised in the pay review.”

Mrs Whately, who worked for a decade in the health service before becoming an MP, said she had been told by staff the most pressing issues were having the time to care, being part of a stable team and the way they were treated by colleagues.

“I remember very well talking to one nurse whose line manager had not talked to her since the last time she’d had an appraisal,” she said.

“To me, that is an extraordinary way of not valuing a member of staff, they should be having regular conversations with their manager about how they are.

“Part of the problem here is in some NHS institutions [there are] not good enough management practices.

“Then we would have a much better environment for staff to work in and that is something I would like to see more attention paid to: how to have the right environment for healthcare workers as well as making sure there is a fair and sensible pay settlement.”

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