NHS bosses say the pay cap on NHS staff must be lifted because it puts patient’s safety at risk.

According to NHS providers, the cap had caused retention and recruitment problems in England, which has limited pay rises to only 1% a year up until 2019.

NHS Providers chief executive Chris Hopson said his members were worried the situation was so bad that NHS services were at risk.

Seven years of pay restraint, combined with the stressful conditions staff work in, has taken a toll on the workforce.

Chris Hopson added: “pay is becoming uncompetitive and significant numbers of Trusts say lower paid staff are leaving to stack shelves in supermarkets, rather than carry on working in the NHS.”

The Royal College of Nursing say a combination of pay freezes and caps on pay rises have led to a 14% pay cut, due to the cost of living increasing.

RCN general secretary Janet Davies said: “the government cannot ignore this warning from hospital bosses – poor pay for NHS staff damages patient care.”

She added: “it pays more to stack supermarket shelves than work on the wards, ministers should hang their heads in shame.”

Labour pledges to look into increasing pay so it better reflects the cost of living.

A Conservative party spokesman said: “The truth is that in order to continue to invest in the NHS, grow staff numbers and pay and improve patient care, we need to secure the economic progress we’ve made and get a good Brexit deal.”

Liberal Democrats health spokesman Norman Lamb had refused to comment on whether his party would increase NHS pay.

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