Thursday 22 July 2021 / 12:00 PM Jonathan Ashworth

Jonathan Ashworth responds to the Government’s health statement

***Check against delivery***

Jonathan Ashworth MP, Labour’s Shadow Health and Social Care Secretary, responding to the Government’s health statement, said:

“Yesterday was a shambles, an insult to the House and a let-down for health and care staff. First of all why did a Minister come to the house to announce nothing on pay, only for a press release to drop 3 hours later?

“Ministers have been dragged kicking and screaming to 3 per cent. Does he accept this isn’t an NHS wide pay settlement? It doesn’t cover all the health and care workforce who don’t fall under this pay review body.

“It doesn’t cover our junior doctors who have been in full often ill-fitting PPE caring for sick patients on ventilators, and have been redeployed across a understaffed pressured NHS and their training has been disrupted. Will the junior doctors get a pay rise? Especially given the pay review body urged Ministers to recognise the role of doctors were out of scope.

“Will all health staff employed in public health receive this settlement? And yet again – when we know the value of care workers – why won’t the government guarantee a real living wage for those working in social care?

“How will this be pay settlement funded? NHS Trusts don’t even know their budget beyond September. Health Secretary costs this settlement will cost the best part of £2.2 billion. Where is this £2.2 billion coming from? Or he is expecting trusts and general practise to find it from their existing budgets at a time when the NHS is in a summer crisis and looming ahead to the worst winter in living memory.

“Three weeks ago the health secretary said lifting restrictions would make us healthier. There are now 700 admissions a day. Almost 600 people are on ventilators. Cancer operations cancelled, ambulances trusts are under unprecedented pressures. A&E demand is intense. Hundreds of thousands waiting over 12 months for treatment, thousands waiting over two years.

“The NHS needs a more investment now. And we need the plan to fix social care, the Prime Minister promised on Downing Street two years ago this Saturday. Instead this week we’ve had briefing and counter briefing from Prime Minister, Chancellor and Health Secretary.

“Will the Government break their manifesto pledge to increase NICs or is the Business Secretary correct to say this morning “I don’t see how we could increase national insurance.”

“But this isn’t the social care plan the Prime Minister said he had prepared. It’s a government in disarray.

“Which brings me to the so called pingdemic isolation. This is what happened when ministers allow infections out of control. The government have u-turned again and agreed a list of workers who could be exempt from isolation based on a negative PCR.

“Infections running at more than 50,000 a day. Possibly 100,000. He is guaranteeing PCR testing capacity will be available to cope with the inevitable increased demand this summer. But if he wants to avoid shutting society down, he needs to bring infection down

“So why have the government ruled out extending statutory sick pay for the lowest paid?

“What is he going to do to drive up vaccination rates amongst younger adults? Because can he not see that allowing infections to rise sets his vaccination programme back given someone can’t have a vaccine for 28 days post infection.

“He today has repeated support for vaccine passports. Can he explain why he thinks it is safe to go clubbing till the early hours this Friday, but in September its only safe if everyone is double jabbed?

“He has a proposal for nightclubs in September but what about school. A million children have been off school recently. Will he use the summer to install air filtration units in schools in time for September?”