Singling out nurses for special treatment could spark off a host of other public service pay demands
The Jenny McGee story makes most of the front pages this morning and is likely to continue to get attention for a week or so until after the Channel 4 programe she features in goes out. This touches a few issues including BREXIT which has made the UK more difficult for trained foreign nurses and the need for the government to keep public sector pay under control.
A huge problem here is that NHS nurses have wide public support and this has to be handled delicately by the government and the PM in particular for there is a history of Tory PMs getting it wrong when faced with issues like Jenny McGee
We all remember nearly 4 years ago when Theresa May was fighting the 2017 general election and in the final big set piece, the Question Time Special, she was confronted with a nurse whose pay in real terms had declined over the past few years. Mrs May’s response I believe, was a big reason why she lost her majority the following Thursday. We all remember her words – “There is no magic money tree”.
What makes this current case challenging for the PM is that it is so personal and Miss McGee who was singled out for special praise by him after his release from hospital. In July last year she was invited to Number 10 for a garden party to celebrate 72 years of the NHS. In the film, the nurse says she was asked to take part in the clap for carers alongside the prime minister. But she stayed out of it which, of course, deprived Downing Street of a good photo opp..
No doubt Keir Starmer’s team will be working hard on how best to use this.