The government has been branded an “utter shambles” after it failed to announce a pay rise for NHS staff as expected.
It was understood that Helen Whately, the care minister, had been due to make the announcement in the Commons on Wednesday.
But despite delivering a statement to MPs, it did not include details of any pay rise.
The government had triggered a backlash after suggesting NHS staff would only be given a 1% increase.
But it has been reported the NHS Pay Review Body had recommended it be increased to 3%.
Rosena Allin-Khan, Labour’s shadow health minister, said given the expectation the “contempt the government holds for this House is unacceptable”.
“Less than an hour ago there were competing briefings on what the deal was going to be, but it’s turned out to be nothing,” she told MPs.
“Our NHS staff deserve better than this. They have worked incredibly hard throughout this pandemic.
“The personal sacrifice is astounding. Their hard work never stops. Our NHS staff deserve better than this.”
Justin Madders, also a shadow health minister, tweeted: “Government say they cant afford to offer NHS staff more than 1%, see the backlash so brief they are going to give 3% but then come to parliament to make a statement on it …. and say nothing at all.
“What an utter shambles.”
The government sparked anger in March by saying it could only afford a 1% increase despite the extraordinary efforts of NHS staff to deal with the pandemic.
Boris Johnson defended the plan and former health secretary, Matt Hancock said the decision to recommend such a small increase was due to an assessment of “what’s affordable as a nation” following the Covid crisis.
The NHS Pay Review Body made its recommendation weeks ago, leaving unions to question why a pay rise is still being delayed.
Pat Cullen, the interim general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said the treatment of NHS workers was “shameful”.
“Ministers are holding them in contempt and we have no choice but to condemn this behaviour,” she said.
“With tens of thousands of nursing vacancies and thousands more considering their future in the profession, the government is sending the worst possible signal with this political gameplaying.
“Ministers need to stop the wrangling and come clean about the pay rise they believe NHS staff deserve. Nursing staff will only accept this pay award if it’s significant, consolidated and fully funded with additional monies.”