The Government is facing a fresh attack after confirming it will not pay a bonus to NHS and social care workers in England.
A petition signed by thousands of people called for a one-off bonus of £500 for health staff in England in recognition of their “extraordinary service” during the pandemic.
A similar bonus has been announced in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
In response to the petition, the Government said: “We are immensely grateful to our health and social care workforce. We are not currently planning to pay £500 bonuses but are exploring ways to improve recognition of health and social care staff.
“The Government hugely values and appreciates all our NHS and social care staff. We are working hard to ensure that all health and social care workers feel supported and safe to continue the fight against Covid-19.
“Covid-19 has placed a huge strain on public finances and the economic outlook remains uncertain.
“At the 2020 Spending Review the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced that pay rises in the public sector would be paused for 2021/22, with two exceptions: NHS staff and public sector workers with full-time equivalent salaries of £24,000 or less.”
The Government has already been criticised for recommending NHS staff should receive a 1% pay rise this year.
Royal College of Nursing acting general secretary Pat Cullen said: “The public overwhelming wants to see health and care staff fairly paid, rewarded and respected.
“Yet again the Government’s shown that, behind the rhetoric, they truly do not value our hard-working nursing staff.
“Our nursing staff deserve a significant pay rise and they shouldn’t be kept waiting. Ministers must end the delay and rethink their 1% plan.”