Commenting in response to the appointment of Sajid Javid as new health and social care secretary, Unite national officer for health Jackie Williams said: “It is a concern that the new health and social care secretary Sajid Javid, an ‘austerity’ conservative, has been put in charge of the NHS at this critical time when the in-tray is overflowing and a massive cash injection is needed to put the health service back on an even keel for the next five years.

“The top issues are the need for a substantial pay rise for NHS staff to tackle the ‘recruitment and retention’ crisis; the much-promised reform of social care, as well as the extra cash to grapple with the backlog of operations and procedures, such as cancer treatments and hip replacements.

“NHS staff are exhausted after 16 months of tireless caring for patients during the pandemic - and many are now prepared to leave the health service after a decade of pay austerity which has seen pay packets for many shrink by 19 per cent in real terms. Unless the insulting one per cent recommendation from the government is greatly increased, this could be the last straw for many dedicated staff.

“Already the nurse who cared for Boris Johnson when he was very ill with Covid, Jenny McGee has quit because of what she said was the ‘lack of respect’ by the government for NHS staff – many others are and will be following in Jenny’s footsteps.

“And a dark cloud hangs over the NHS in the form of the accelerating privatisation of services, which manifested itself in its crudest form in the awarding of PPE contracts to the ‘friends’ of the Tory establishment. This pernicious trend must be reversed as healthcare for the sick, elderly and vulnerable can’t be quantified in terms of ‘profit and losses’.

“The challenges facing Sajid Javid are immense and he will need all his knowledge and experience as an ex-chancellor to persuade the chief secretary to the treasury Stephen Barclay to loosen the purse strings to rejuvenate the health service and see that staff are fairly rewarded for all their hard work during the pandemic.”

ENDS