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Unions representing NHS staff, including nurses, junior doctors, paramedics, cleaners, and porters say this mean it could take months to make any decision on pay rises for workers.
Sara Gorton, head of health at Unison, said the government has had “ample opportunity” to decide on “early and significant” pay rises for burnt-out staff who have been working flat out during the coronavirus crisis.
She said: “Money must be found to deliver it in the Budget on Wednesday. This can’t be allowed to drag on endlessly into the summer. The public expect NHS workers to be recognised and rewarded without delay for the risks they face in keeping the country safe.”
She added that without a pay rise, there would be “an exodus of employees from an already understaffed health service”.
Unison has been campaigning for a £2,000 pay rise for NHS staff to ensure all staff are “recognised equally”.
Labour MPs were quick to criticise the news, describing it as a “kick in the teeth”.
Shadow secretary of state Angela Rayner accused Boris Johnson and Mr Sunak of using Clap for Carers last year as a “photo opportunity”.
She tweeted: “A pay rise is the very least our NHS, social care and key worker heroes deserve after all they have done for us.
“Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak fell over themselves to clap for our carers for a photo opportunity and then sell them out and kick them in the teeth.”
Jonathan Ashworth, shadow health secretary, commented: “Our NHS staff deserve a fair pay rise. If Rishi Sunak next week refuses it will be [a] kick in the teeth to our brave hardworking NHS heroes.”
The government announced in July last year that almost 900,000 public sector workers - including some doctors, teachers and police officers - would receive above-inflation pay rise of up to 3.1 per cent in a three-year deal.
However, nurses were not included in the announcement due to a separate three-year deal negotiated in 2018. The deal also did not apply to junior doctors after they agreed to a four-year pay deal in 2019.