David Duguid writes from Turriff

Debates and business in Westminster are currently suspended, so David Duguid is working from home and writing from Turriff this week.

Debates and business in Westminster are currently suspended, so David Duguid is working from home and writing from Turriff this week.

It has been fantastic to see the way in which the public has responded to the key government message to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.

David Duguid MP

It has not been easy, with enormous disruption to all our day-to-day lives.

Particular appreciation must be paid to everyone who continues to work in essential roles, especially in health and care provision settings.

Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, clear and accurate public information has been vital.

But there has also been a great deal of misinformation circulating, particularly on social media.

Some of this can be easy to filter through, but in other cases, it can be hard to know what to believe.

One example which has come up time and again has been an alleged failure of this Conservative UK Government to give NHS nurses a pay rise.

I have been repeatedly contacted about this, mostly via my social media channels.

While the question of nurses pay here in Scotland is a matter for the Scottish Government, I think it is important to try and set the record straight about these claims.

The ‘vote’ to which some people refer was on an amendment to the Queen’s speech back in June 2017. 

This amendment, which was tabled by Jeremy Corbyn and other opposition MPs, served only to create the perception that those of us on the Government benches were ‘against’ the lifting of a pay cap on public sector workers.

The amendment was never meant to be constructive and voting for it would not have given nurses or anyone else a pay rise.

In fact, later that year in Autumn 2017, it was announced that NHS staff, including nurses, would receive at least a 6.5% pay rise over the following three years.

As part of this deal, more than 200,000 nurses are benefitting from an increase. Those below the top of their pay band are receiving an uplift of at least 9%, with those already at the top of their band receiving a 6.5% hike.

This deal was negotiated and agreed upon with the NHS trade unions and represented one of the largest public sector pay increases in several years.

The UK Government has also increased the starting salary for nurses, meaning someone starting now will be 12% better off compared with three years ago.

This government has a strong record of supporting our nurses and the NHS in general, which will receive an extra £20 billion up to 2024.

An extra £2 billion, through the Barnett formula, will come to the Scottish Government as a result of this commitment and of course, I am keen for all of that amount to go towards the NHS in Scotland.

The bottom line here is that we all hugely value the contribution of all our NHS staff and carers.

They are the first line of defence and playing a vital role in the national effort to beat Coronavirus.

Our Prime Minister Boris Johnson made very clear when he was discharged from hospital that he believed the nurses that looked after him in intensive care ‘saved his life’.

But they are saving lives every day through this crisis, in hospitals up and down the country.

We all owe our NHS staff an enormous debt of gratitude.

That is why we clap every Thursday evening at 8pm to express our thanks – even in this small way.

And we should remember, after this crisis is over, the contribution that all of our health and care workers make – not just over the past few weeks, but all year round.

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