Hancock made the comments while speaking to Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday – 72 years to the day since the National Health Service (NHS) was founded. Asked by Ridge if the “best birthday present for the NHS” would be a pay rise for health workers, the minister responded: “We absolutely want to reward NHS staff for what they have done.”

He went on to say that, due to the coronavirus pandemic, 2020 has proved to be the health service’s “toughest year” since it was founded in 1948. 

“The lengths that NHS staff have gone to have been incredible, but also the flexibility that they’ve shown – the amazing increase, for instance, in the use of technology, which has improved many of the services,” Hancock added.

However, though lauding health workers for the myriad ways they stepped up their efforts to help defeat and treat Covid-19, the minister made no commitment to express the aforementioned “reward” in the form of extra pay. 

Hancock’s comments on Sunday echo remarks he made earlier in the pandemic. In mid-May, he said he would “fight” to make sure that nurses “have that fair reward,” but, again, did not commit to delivering that in the form of a pay rise.

According to the latest UK government figures, 44,198 people have died from coronavirus across the country since the start of the outbreak.

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