Rishi Sunak’s spending review and the NHS

Times are tough right now, and today’s budget from Chancellor Rishi Sunak confirmed it. With a general pay freeze across the public sector, potentially damaging cuts elsewhere and – as yet – no plans to make our tax system fairer, many of us will have questions and concerns.

But we can also feel proud today. Collectively, we’ve put our arms around our NHS to protect it and because of pressure from people like us, the Chancellor confirmed a £3 billion funding boost for our health service. Over the past 7 months, we’ve also put our arms around NHS staff too – and helped protect them from the pay freeze other public sector workers are facing.

Here’s some more about the Chancellor’s announcements today – and what we did, together, to help:

£3 billion for our NHS:

This autumn, news broke that hospitals across England were short of £1 billion they needed to cope with the triple whammy of the second wave of coronavirus, the flu season, and a massive backlog of operations.  As 38 Degrees members, we refused to let our NHS struggle this winter and be left on its knees after battling coronavirus. So together:

  • Almost 100,000 of us added our names to a petition calling for the NHS to get an emergency funding boost.
  • Thousands of us wrote personal emails to our MPs, asking them to find out what hospitals in their constituencies needed – and take those demands straight to the Chancellor.
  • 8000 of us wrote personalised messages to the Chancellor himself, asking him to prioritise funding for the NHS in the budget.

 

And it worked – Rishi Sunak’s announcement of £3 billion is triple what hospitals were calling for. As the second wave continues and the usual winter crisis hits, we’ll all be keeping a watch out to make sure we are there to keep up the pressure when our NHS needs it. But right now we can be proud of the part we played in making sure our health service can support us through a tough winter and beyond.

Protecting our healthcare heroes’ pay:

Since the beginning of the pandemic, millions of us have been calling for healthcare heroes to get a proper pay rise – not just applause. We joined together to support them at a time when they risked so much to support us and together:

  • Over 480,000 of us signed petitions to government ministers calling for all NHS staff to get a proper pay rise
  • Tens of thousands of us put up posters in windows across the country calling for NHS workers to be properly rewarded
  • We chipped in together to get our adverts splashed across the internet – making sure they were on the government’s radar
  • Those of us who work in the NHS even recorded a video, sharing our pleas for a pay rise, which we sent straight to the Chancellor [11]
  • Thousands of us emailed our MPs, asking them to help give NHS staff the pay rise they deserve. And MPs replied in record numbers.

 

There was hard news for others in the public sector. Right now, we’re looking at what it means, and what – together – we decide to do about it. But after everything we’ve done, the government knew they couldn’t freeze NHS workers pay – not without a huge public outcry, from millions of us.

Planned talks for a pay rise for NHS staff will go ahead in the new year. We’ll all be watching to make sure it’s a proper pay rise, that recognises their hard work. And we’ll be ready to leap into action if it’s not good enough.

…But for today, we should all feel proud that we came together to fight for our NHS and help protect it, like it’s protected us.