A party election broadcast will air at 6.55pm today emphasising Keir Starmer’s close personal relationship with the NHS and calling on voters to protect the health service by voting for Labour in the upcoming elections in May.
In the video message to the electorate this evening, the Labour leader is expected to tell those watching about the support that the health service gave his mother throughout her illness and about her role working as a nurse.
“I’m very grateful to the NHS, and my mum was very grateful,” he will say. “She loved the NHS, right through the many decades she absolutely depended on them. My mum sadly passed away.
“But now, my wife works in the NHS, so we’re still part of that family. And I can see everyday that in the NHS. People go to work, not just because it’s a job, but with a deep, deep sense of public service and helping other people, and it’s really profound.”
The political broadcast will focus on Labour’s plan for the NHS and how the party intends to pay its workers a decent wage, tackle waiting lists, ensure that children get the mental health support and fix the social care system.
“We’ll end the scandal of a social care system that’s been left broken. Because the generation in our care homes deserve the same commitment from us that they showed in rebuilding our country after the Second World War,” Starmer will say.
“If you care about something, you protect it. Through Labour councils and Labour councillors, we will fight on the ground to keep your community healthy. A vote for Labour is a vote for our nurses. A vote for Labour is a vote for our NHS.”
Labour has made NHS pay, and in particular nurses’ pay, a central part of its campaign messaging ahead of the contests, with the Labour leader and Shadow Health Secretary telling the public that “a vote for Labour is a vote to support our nurses”.
The government recently recommended that NHS workers receive a pay rise of 1%, which amounts to a real-terms pay cut as it fails to keep pace with inflation. Ministers have argued that nurses have received a 12.8% increase since 2017/18.
This claim, repeated by Boris Johnson in the House of Commons, does not account for inflation or the impact of austerity on their wages up to 2017. It also only applies to one group of nurses working rather than all those working in the NHS.
Frontline NHS workers featured in the broadcast will say: “We do our jobs because we love the patients and we work for the patients. And we get 1%. It just makes us feel worthless. We are, as nurses, the backbone of the NHS. We need support. We could lose the NHS, and that would be devastating.”
Labour has faced criticism by some on the left over the party’s refusal to back union demands for a 12% pay rise for NHS nurses, as the opposition has only said they should “at the very least” receive the 2.1% increase planned by the government last year.