Now we health workers know how empty Boris Johnson's 'clap for heroes' really was | Rachel Clarke
We’ve had a traumatic year and lost patients and colleagues. But all he offers us is a derisory 1% pay offer, says palliative care doctor Rachel Clarke
“angels” with praise has two irresistible attractions. First, it wraps you in an ersatz sheen of pseudo-selflessness. The more lavishly you clap ‘“the healthcare heroes”, the better you persuade the voters that you too care. Second, all those public declarations of praise – so fervently tweeted, televised, promoted and shared – have the advantage of being entirely free. They cost the politician, and the Treasury, nothing at all.
We’ve had a year of performative gestures. That never-ending applause from the steps of Number 10, those photo ops of Johnson in goggles squirting water into test tubes, the extraordinary footage ofHancock’s dry-eyed tearswhen the health secretary was seemingly overcome with emotion at the arrival of Covid vaccines.
Now, though, the mask has well and truly slipped. We’ve discovered precisely how much Johnson really values NHS staff. And – in an inverse relationship to the zeal with which he has clapped – it turns out the answer is one Pret a Manger sandwich. Yes: headtopics.com
£3.50 a weekis precisely how much extra he thinks each NHS nurse deserves.Incredibly, the 1% pay “rise” the government has proposed for NHS staff – it’s a real-terms pay cut, of course, once inflation is factored in – is being touted as beneficence. Indeed, the minister for mental health, Nadine Dorries, has insisted she is “pleasantly surprised” by the proposal, adding that she believes “nurses are about more than superficial soundbites, I think nurses love their job. They do their job because they love their job.”
There it is, that word “love” again. Never have four letters been used so vacuously. To dispel any lingering prime ministerial doubts, the NHS is powered not by love but by its annual budget – and love has never paid a hard-pressed nurse’s grocery bills. Many NHS staff do indeed love their jobs, but we still have mortgages and gas bills, and hungry kids to feed. We will go the extra mile for patients again and again, but that doesn’t mean our better natures should be exploited by Number 10.
Johnson needs to understand that love – real, genuine NHS love – is neither trite, nor easy, nor effortless, nor glib. NHS love is caring for a colleague as they suffocate from Covid, knowing that you could be the next to be infected and die. NHS love is being failed by the government on protective equipment but working regardless, wrapped in hospital bin bags and a visor you had to buy from B&Q.
Read moreNHS love is kneeling on the floor to help a child into a mask and apron so she can say goodbye to Mummy, who is dying in intensive care. NHS love is nearly vomiting with anxiety by the side of the road – because there’s only so much dying one human being can take – before setting off again towards the patients you know still need you. NHS love is the doctors and nurses who even now, as I type, are suffering from PTSD, anxiety and depression in their droves: who feel they can’t go on, who are broken, who have even talked of suicide when their defences are down. headtopics.com
This government insists a proper NHS pay rise is unaffordable. They bow their heads and say, “I’m sorry, our hands are tied.” It’s claptrap, of course. It’s a political choice. This is, after all, the very same government that is perfectly willing to spend £65bn on the first phase of HS2 – a project whose total cost could climb to £107bn or more, even as it seems that fewer of us will be making train journeys.
Here, then, is the stark truth behind the derisory 1% pay offer. If the prime minister can afford to spend two-thirds of the entire NHS annual budget on a very fast train, he can also afford to reward NHS staff with a real-terms pay rise. The fact that he has chosen, quite deliberately, not to do so speaks volumes.
All the praise was empty, the sycophancy merely that. This government has made no meaningful commitment to the NHS or NHS staff at all. The sorry truth, as every NHS nurse who’s ever used a food bank knows, is that money can’t buy you love – and love can’t buy you anything at all.
Rachel Clarke is a palliative care doctor and author of: Inside the NHS in a Time of Pandemic Read more: The Guardian »
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If you were not threatening to strike I would have more sympathy. Try running a business with customers closing owing you money is a daily occurrence. Try watching everything you built over 20 years hard work disappear before your eyes. We all worked hard but some have been paid Preparing to privatise NHS on basis that we just can’t afford it. If we can limit amount of profits that go off shore , may be enough left to pay nurses a decent salary. But country seems not to understand that whole cabinet designed just for deregulation and privatisation.
When he came out of hospital he stood outside number 10 and said he would be forever indebted to the NHS. He is such a traitor ResignBorisJohnson No clapping but proper reward Go on strike He was aiming for your ribs. Why do people always think it’s only ever about money. Our NHS deserve out heart felt thanks doing what they do for us. It’s the appreciation that the profession needs.
He hid his government's Incompetence behind the people who are risking their own lives to save ours and then took the credit for their work in vaccine roll out. One day we may become a Type II civilisation - capable of utilising the energy output of an entire galaxy. We could put of all that civilisation’s wealth into the NHS and there would still be a lefty activist somewhere complaining that it’s not enough.
There is no greater joy than having financial stability and a life free of debts, that’s why I keep tweeting a comment about gigsfrid Remember when you told us NHS that lockdown wasn't that bad and to stop moaning about it oh well Tories DON’T care. Tories WON’T care. Don’t support Tories. Is it ok to refuse an elbow bump? Zero contact reduces risk and it would be a true pity if that was a picture of him killing the girl.
Piss. Off. says author on 'Palliative Medicine. Salary: £83,096 - £110,683 per annum' 1% is £1000 a year. When millions of people have been furloughed or made redundant. Classy. BorisJohnson went to flooded areas in Yorkshire got the GE votes and did sweet FA afterwards. When will people learn? YorksBylines YorkshireTea
Let’s see, we’re not sending 350 million quid a week to the EU but funding the NHS instead, so that’s 18.2 billion spare. Should be enough for a pay rise? What utter tosh frankly! Cry me a river. Lazy NHS.