Sheffield NHS staff 'reeling' as advisor to private healthcare 'major player' is appointed health secretary

A representative of a nursing union and Sheffield nurse has criticised the appointment of Sajid Javid to the position of Health Secretary, but backed national calls for one of his first moves to be to rethink the ‘insulting’ one per cent pay rise for NHS staff.

Tuesday, 29th June 2021, 9:02 am

Sajid Javid succeeded Matt Hancock in the cabinet position of Health Secretary after the latter resigned amid contorversy over leaked pictures showing him breaking social distancing rules and kissing a colleague and close friend he appointed to a publicly funded advisory role.

However, a union representative says NHS staff in Sheffield have expressed despair at Mr Javid’s appointment, and said his background in banking and corporate finance – as well as his involvement with stakeholders in private healthcare – suggests he will continue to ‘underfund’ and ‘sell off’ parts of the national health service.

Sajid Javid, a former banker, took a role as a senior advisor to JP Morgan Chase – which owns private healthcare firm Morgan Health – in August 2020, alongside his MP duties.

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Joan Pons Laplana worked in intensive care at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield during the coronavirus crisis
Joan Pons Laplana worked in intensive care at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield during the coronavirus crisis

Joan Pons Laplana, nurse at the Northern General and Unison representative said: “We are still reeling from fact that Sajid Javid is a career banker and paid senior adviser to JP Morgan - [a firm] which happens to be a major player in private healthcare.

“Safe in his hands? The NHS as we know it has never been more threatened.

“I am afraid the new health minister is more of the same.”

Former chancellor of the exchequer Sajid Javid, arrives at the Department of Health & Social Care in central London, after he was appointed as Health Secretary, following the resignation of Matt Hancock over the weekend. Picture date: Monday June 28, 2021.

Alongside his harsh criticism over the appointment, Mr Laplana backed calls by the Royal College of Nurses for Mr Javid to rethink the proposed one per cent pay rise offered to nurses earlier this year.

Earlier today (June 28), leading nurses at the RCN said Mr Javid should not ‘insult nurses’ by giving them a one per cent pay rise.

Pat Cullen, acting chief executive and general secretary of the RCN, told BBC Breakfast: “We understand that the Pay Review Body – the body that recommends the pay award for health care staff including nurses – may very well be in his in-tray this morning.

“And what we’re saying to him, please don’t insult nurses by awarding them a one per cent pay award.

“That just will do nothing to try and hold on to those fantastic nurses that we’ve got in our system, not one of them can we afford to lose, but it also would attract [more nurses], and [attract new] nurses into the system.”

Speaking to The Star previously, Mr Laplana slammed the one per cent pay rise, and said it was a ‘kick in the teeth’ after nurses suffered the hardest year of their lives battling the Covid pandemic.

He helped to organise protests outside Sheffield hospitals over the proposal, and explained that the ‘rise’ is actually a pay cut in real terms, as the increase is lower than inflation.

Mr Laplana since added: “The RCN is right to put some pressure on the secretary of state to reverse the one per cent pay rise. It's an insult.

“The secretary of state should make a priority the staffing problems in NHS. Also [he should focus on] in putting together long term mental health support to ensure all NHS staff are okay.”