Bedford’s mayor is batting for care workers to be given a pay rise by the Government, too.
NHS employees are due to receive a three per cent hike but so far nothing has been offered for low paid people who work in care services.
“I really worry that our care workers, who I think were treated appallingly at the beginning of the pandemic and are on a lower salary than most in the NHS, are not getting the three per cent pay rise that the NHS has been promised,” said Bedford mayor Dave Hodgson (Lib Dem).
“I think the NHS deserves it, but I think the care workers deserve it more.”
He added, “They were treated very badly at the start of the pandemic, they are very low paid, and we desperately need care workers.”
Councils across Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes (BLMK) are developing their plans to work together with the NHS to achieve agreed priorities.
But the mayor warned NHS representatives that the council is struggling to make huge cuts at the same time as having more things to do.
“We’re currently trying to find £10.9 million savings this year in a £134m budget,” he said. After that, more is set to be chopped off the budget.
Speaking at the health and well-being board on Wednesday (July 28) the mayor appealed to his NHS colleagues to consider that.
“We have the same, if not greater, demand pressure than the NHS and I don’t see that acknowledged,” he said
The meeting was considering a report that takes the integrated care system a step towards closer working.
Kate Walker, Bedford Borough Council’s director of adult services, added her voice for care workers to be seen in the same way as their NHS colleagues.
“It’s a fly in the ointment that we are talking about people doing very similar roles but being paid very differently and not being recognised in the same way, or by the Government,” she said.
“The constraints are just huge and the resources are just dwindling with no reform,” she added.
Giving an NHS response Felicity Cox, the executive lead of the BLMK integrated care system (ICS) said she recognised that carers remain vital, both paid carers and informal carers.
“The national pay award, albeit without any additional money attached, is only NHS applicable at the moment,” she said.
“I do hope that at some point we will get some similar resolution for social care. I think it’s essential.”
She added that the NHS has been lobbying on social care and for carers.
“We do absolutely understand that but perhaps we could give more recognition to that as the mayor has asked.”
The committee agreed to note the report.
by David Tooley
Local Democracy Reporter