There will not be a single household in Crawley which has not been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic over the last few months. It seems every aspect of our lives has been altered in some way, particularly the things we often take for granted. From going to school, to having a medical appointment, from the weekly shop, to using public transport, coronavirus means that this year will be one which we will never forget.
The last few months have only gone to reiterate what all of us already knew. Our public sector workers make a unique contribution to the running of our nation, and are there for us even in the most challenging of moments.
It is fitting that almost 900,000 public sector workers will see above-inflation pay rises reflecting their hard work and dedication.
Doctors and dentists will receive a pay rise of 2.8 per cent. This confirmation coincided with figures showing a third record-breaking year for GP trainee recruitment in England, helping the Government work towards its promise to provide 6,000 more doctors as part of plans to deliver an extra 50 million appointments a year.
Indeed, the number of doctors going into training is up by a record 15 per cent compared to the same point last year, meaning that beating the target for recruiting 3,500 doctors in training to general practice this year is on track.
This boosting of the workforce will ensure larger medical teams providing a wider range of care options for patients. This will ensure more time to focus on those with more complex needs and making sure patients get the best quality care.
As part of a three-year pay deal reached in 2018, nurses who are still moving up their pay structures will receive an average 4.4 per cent rise this year.
I am aware that there are many people in Crawley, from our key workers in the public and private sectors to individuals and groups volunteering in the community, who have gone above and beyond during this pandemic.
It is right that we also recognise and thank those volunteers who have played such an important role in helping others at this time, which is why I am asking for nominations for Crawley Coronavirus Community Champions.
People who queued up and did the shopping for a neighbour, those who dropped off and collected prescriptions for vulnerable friends, or if you helped provide supplies or meals for frontline workers; you deserve our thanks.
Anyone living or volunteering in Crawley qualifies and if you know of any organisation or individual deserving of recognition, please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Henry Smith MP