NHS chief says healthcare workers should be 'properly rewarded' for coronavirus hardships

George Martin
·3-min read
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 14: A man wearing a mask walk past a NHS sign on the footpath outside of Selfridges on Oxford street on June 14, 2020 in London, England. Many "non-essential" shops are allowed to reopen from June 15 after being closed for more than two months due to risks posed by Covid-19. (Photo by Hollie Adams/Getty Images)
A man wearing a mask walks past a NHS sign on the footpath outside Selfridges on Oxford Street. (Getty)

The chief executive of the NHS has urged the government to “properly reward” his staff for their work during the coronavirus pandemic.

Sir Simon Stevens was asked whether he believes NHS staff deserve a pay rise on the BBC's The Andrew Marr Show on Sunday.

"You would expect me as the head of the NHS to back staff across the health service,” he told the host.

"Of course we want to see NHS staff properly rewarded. Those will be decisions the government will have to take later in the year."

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 25: NHS workers are seen holding a banner reading "The NHS saved Boris, now give us a pay rise" outside the Houses of Parliament on June 25, 2020 in London, England. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was admitted to hospital in April after contracting Coronavirus. (Photo by Peter Summers/Getty Images)
NHS workers are seen holding a banner reading "The NHS saved Boris, now give us a pay rise" outside the Houses of Parliament on late last month. (Getty)

Asked whether the NHS had requested a further £10 billion in funding from the Chancellor, Sir Simon said: "What I have done with my colleagues is ask that there be necessary funding to give for the extra costs of coronavirus, that's the commitment that the chancellor gave back in March and I have to tell you he has delivered on it.

"He has indeed provided the extra funding we have needed through this coronavirus pandemic."

Sir Simon says the NHS has treated 100,000 coronavirus patients “who needed specialist emergency care” during the crisis.

But they had been planning for as many as two million hospital patients at the beginning of the outbreak.

Sir Simon warned, however, that the UK was not out of the woods yet and said a second wave of the pandemic remains "entirely possible".

He said: "It is entirely possible there will be [a second wave]. Particularly if it is co-existent with the flu. And the risk is many of the symptoms are interchangeable.

"So one of the things we need is a very rigorous NHS testing and tracing service available.

"The ability to give early warnings to hospitals where there are those local increases and I think we are going to need the biggest-ever flu immunisation season we have ever had.

"We don't know yet whether there will be a COVID-19 vaccine available in time for winter."

Sir Simon also said a there had been a "perfect storm" of disrupted supply chains and a huge spike in demand for personal protective equipment (PPE) had put the NHS under pressure.

"I think it's undoubtedly the case that there was a perfect storm in respect of PPE, not just in this country but across Europe,” he continued.

"We had a combination of a huge increase in the need for it at exactly the same time as the Chinese economy was in lockdown, and a very a significant dependence, not just here, but across Europe on Chinese supplies.

"So putting those two things together it clearly created a very difficult situation."

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