Nurses, doctors, and other NHS staff have had their pay frozen for the last seven years after the Conservatives in Westminster introduced a public sector pay cap.

While MPs have just had a £1049 pay rise, the royal family has huge increases in funding year after year, and bankers still receive hefty bonuses, NHS nurses’ pay has fallen 14% in real terms since 2009.

The NHS pay cap is beginning to have a knock on effect on patient care. Morale for NHS staff is low in cash strapped and under-staffed services. An increasing number of posts are vacant as some are driven out by current conditions and others are put off from getting started. It is an indictment of the Tories’ approach that we hear reports of nurses having to turn to food banks because their falling incomes no longer cover the cost of living.

In their General Election manifesto, Welsh Labour committed to lifting the public sector pay cap. Labour may not have won the election and may not be in power in Westminster, but with powers over most public services devolved to the Welsh Government, Labour in Wales have the power to act. We have a Labour Government in Wales, twenty eight Welsh Labour MPs and still the NHS pay cap stays.

The Welsh NHS Confederation estimates that the NHS pay bill is about £3bn. A pay rise in line with CPI (2.3%) could cost about £70m extra, which is affordable within the existing Welsh Government budget.

The Scottish Government have said that they will work towards lifting the pay cap for NHS workers in Scotland in their 2018 budget. It is time for Wales to follow suit.

Plaid Cymru are challenging Welsh Labour to honour their manifesto promise and end the public sector pay cap. Leanne Wood is writing to the First Minister to ask him to act. You can find the letter on Plaid Cymru’s website, where you can sign up to add your name to the letter.

We could be doing things differently in Wales. We could chose to follow a legislative path that diverges from Westminster, a ‘Welsh way’. We should be standing up to Westminster’s budget slashing agenda, instead of unquestioningly implementing it. Those working hard year round to care for us in the Welsh NHS deserve better.