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A parliamentary debate is scheduled to take place tomorrow in response to calls for nurses and their colleagues to be given a pay rise for their efforts during the coronavirus pandemic and beyond.
On Thursday MPs are set to debate a series of e-petitions submitted to the government on the topic of giving health and social care professionals appropriate recognition and reward for their work.
One of the petitions in question – titled Increase pay for NHS healthcare workers and recognise their work – has received more than 160,000 supporters, exceeding the 100,000 signatures needed to be considered for discussion in parliament.
The debate, organised by the Petitions Committee, will also consider three other petitions focused on the immigration health surcharge for overseas health staff, citizenship for non-British staff, and parity of esteem for social care:
These issues have been widely reported on by Nursing Times over recent weeks and several demonstrations have been held outside No. 10 Downing Street specifically campaigning for nurse pay increases.
Among those who have taken part in protests are members of the grassroots campaign group, Nurses United, who are calling for a 10% pay rise for nurses.
Ahead of the debate in parliament, the group is encouraging nurses to write to their MP and urge them to attend the session.
Anthony Johnson, a registered nurse and lead organiser of Nurses United, told Nursing Times: “We can all see how important our frontline nurses have been and how much the public really cares for our carers.
“For too long though the politicians in Westminster have thought they could get by using and abusing the goodwill of NHS staff.
“Nurses United are here to say no more and to be the place where we get things done.”
The debate on Thursday will be the first on e-petitions in parliament since the coronavirus outbreak began more than three months ago.
Chair of the Petitions Committee, Catherine McKinnell, said she was “honoured” to be leading the debate on these issues.
“Since the coronavirus pandemic began more than three months ago, our healthcare workers across the country have worked incredibly hard to fight this deadly virus, putting their lives on the line to protect us day in day out,” she said.
“It feels absolutely fitting that our first ever e-petition debate to take place in the main chamber of the House of Commons should be about recognising and rewarding their hard work, caring for us and our loved ones at a time of national need.”
She highlighted that there were “still challenges ahead and as a country we are still in the grip of the greatest challenge to our way of life in a lifetime”.
“As our NHS, and health and social care workers, continue to endure enormous risks and sacrifices every day, it is important we take time to reflect and discuss how we as a nation can recognise and reward their efforts,” added Ms McKinnell.
“Petitions on this issue have been supported by hundreds of thousands of people, and we are committed to ensuring the government takes these views into account as the coronavirus crisis continues to impact the UK on a daily basis.”
The debate is set to take place after 10.10am and can be watched here.