Lincoln’s Conservative MP Karl McCartney said the campaign for a 12.5% pay rise for nurses is “far in excess of being realistic and that’s certainly one for the fairies”.
The MP was speaking on BBC Politics North on Sunday, February 28. Presenter Tim Iredale said the Royal College of Nursing is campaigning for the pay rise, and asked McCartney if Chancellor Rishi Sunak should commit to that during the budget on Wednesday, March 3.
The MP said: “No, I don’t think he should. That’s a union doing the best for their members and you can’t blame them, but 12.5% is far in excess of being realistic and that’s certainly one for the fairies.”
Lincoln nurse Mel Kerr asked her MP if he feels the current pay for healthcare workers truly recognises the skill and responsibility that they face on a daily basis.
Karl responded by saying: “In the main, I think it does. Obviously we’d all like to pay our health services more, but that would obviously cause more inflation, and at this point in time after the current pandemic obviously there’s various calls on the monies available to the chancellor as we come towards the budget.
“All sorts of different taxes might have to rise to enable public sector employees to be paid more, so at this point in time it is a very fine balancing act.”
His response frustrated the Lincoln nurse and Mel said: “It really saddens me to think that my MP could be so dismissive of the pleas of his staff in his constituency when we say that enough is enough.
“We need true recognition and true renumeration for everything we have done for this country and he responds in a manner like that. To me that’s truly really unprofessional and quite offensive if I’m being brutally honest.”
Mel also previously spoke to The Lincolnite about the pressures of the coronavirus pandemic on the tense hospital wards.
Karl McCartney was asked by The Lincolnite to expand on his responses from the recent BBC interview.
He said: “NHS staff are playing an integral part of the national effort to combat coronavirus – and we owe them a great deal of gratitude for all that they do.
“I know the government is committed to supporting all staff now and in the future. Its unwavering support for frontline staff predates this unprecedented challenge.
“In addition to the 6.5% pay rise over the three years, the starting salary for newly qualified nurses has also increased by more than 12% and the government has introduced a nurses’ bursary which provides at least £5,000 of additional support to nursing students.
“The fight against coronavirus is a national effort, and my colleagues and I are committed to giving NHS staff the additional support they need throughout it.”
Watch the latest full episode of BBC Politics North here.