Responding to the Chancellor’s cost of living statement, Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said:
“There is a clear link between poverty and poor health outcomes and whilst the Chancellor’s latest interventions are to be welcomed and will offer some desperately needed help, health leaders are very concerned that they are yet another sticking plaster that fail to significantly address the extreme challenges faced by people living on the lowest incomes.
“The long-term impact of the cost-of-living crisis on very low-income households, who we know are facing much greater inflation rates than those on higher wages, will still be profound.
“We already see a stark difference in life expectancy between different parts of our communities, and health leaders are deeply worried that without further action this divergence will grow, which in turn will lead to greater demand for healthcare in the longer term.
“NHS organisations are taking action to support staff as cost-of-living pressures impact on them and their families and this includes offering discounts on public transport, access to financial advice and improved flexibility on working hours.
“But the Government must now urgently consider increasing the pay rates of NHS and other public sector workers to support those staff that need it most, and to ensure that the NHS can continue to be seen as a competitive employer in a challenging labour market. Particular attention also needs to be given to the rates of pay offered in social care, where quick action is needed to recruit and retain staff.”