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Nhs (Ancillary Workers)

Volume 25: debated on Tuesday 15 June 1982

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the average pay for ancillary workers in the National Health Service.

Average earnings are £104·17 a week for full-time men and £84 a week for full-time women. For staff working in London, earnings are increased by allowances of up to £13·68 a week.

Is the Secretary of State aware that those wages are about the same as those of building workers and almost as much as those of skilled workers in British Leyland?

Yes. During the past three years there is no question but that earnings have increased by about 50 per cent.

Is the Minister aware that many ancillary workers are still extremely badly paid? Why does he insist on offering a long-term arrangement implicitly only to nurses and other similar groups in the NHS? Does he agree that the best approach is to get all Health Service workers to accept that, in return for a "no-strike" undertaking, they will receive proper and regular special treatment to keep their pay up with those outside?

If the hon. Gentleman had listened to what I said in the debate on this matter last week, he would have heard me give almost exactly the assurance for which he now asks. I am quite prepared to discuss new, permanent arrangements for other NHS staff.

The Minister gave the statistics for "a week"? How many hours is that? Does he agree that he is including overtime, which means that it is often a week and a half or 50 to 60 hours? Does he agree that figures are gross and that they take no account of compulsory superannuation deductions or income tax? Will he give the income for a basic 37–40-hour week?

I have already given the average earnings figures. I shall give the hon. Gentleman the overtime figures, which he has grossly exaggerated. The average overtime worked by a male ancilliary is 5½ hours a week and that of a woman is 1½ hours a week.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that workers carrying out general duties in the Health Service take twice the share of the cake of total expenditure as they do in the United States? Will my right hon. Friend take steps to increase the provision of private facilities to carry out those services, as opposed to the overwhelming percentage now being carried out by the public sector?

My hon. Friend knows that we are examing that area of policy. He also knows that we have not cut NHS finance. We have increased spending on it by 6 per cent. in real terms. We now spend more than £12 billion a year on it.

Is the Minister aware that many ancillary workers will resent the fact that he has used figures that have been twisted to provide the Government with a stronger case? Is he aware that many ancillary workers will resent that, especially as they know that many of them take only half of the sum that he quoted in net pay? Is he also aware that they will deeply resent the fact that the hon. Member for Chorley (Mr. Dover), who raised the matter, is the same hon. Member who was not satisfied with his parliamentary salary and wanted to keep his local government salary as well when he came to the House?

I published the average earnings of ancillaries some weeks ago. They have not been challenged by any reputable body or person.