NHS pay rise faces push-back from staff groups

The UK Government has announced that all NHS staff will receive a 3 per cent pay rise this year, with the increase set to be backdated to April 2021.

The independent NHS Pay Review Body (NHSPRB) and the Review Body for Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration (DDRB) put forward the 3 per cent pay rise, which was then accepted by the government.

Minister for Care, Helen Whately said: “I am determined to make the NHS the best place to work for all our staff and we continue to invest in recruitment and retention with over 45,300 more staff in the NHS now compared to a year ago, including nearly 9,000 more nurses and over 4,000 more doctors.

“Our NHS staff have worked incredibly hard to fight the pandemic for over 18 months and I’m glad to confirm we are accepting the pay review bodies’ recommendations in full this year, so staff in their remit will receive a 3 per cent pay rise.”

In response, the Royal College of Nursing branded the news a “bitter blow” to NHS staff. The RCN had previously campaigned for a 12.5 per cent pay rise, and the organisation will be holding an online event tonight to consult their members on the next course of action.

The RCN General Secretary and Chief Executive, Pat Cullen said: “After a shambolic day, comes a shambolic announcement. When the Treasury expects inflation to be 3.7 per cent, ministers are knowingly cutting pay for an experienced nurse by over £200 in real-terms.

“Hospitals and other parts of the NHS are struggling to recruit nurses and healthcare support workers. The government has been warned that many more are on the verge of leaving. With today’s decision, ministers have made it even harder to provide safe care to patients. This announcement is light on detail. It must be fully-funded with additional monies for the NHS and ring-fenced for the workforce bill.

“Nursing staff will remain dignified in responding to what will be a bitter blow to many. But the profession will not take this lying down. We will be consulting our members on what action they would like to take next.”

Unite, the workers’ union with over 10,000 members in the health service, said that the increase is “grossly inadequate.”

Unite National Officer for Health, Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe commented: “The Pay Review Body’s recommendation of three per cent is grossly inadequate and underwhelming, and in no way recognises the 19 per cent drop in real earnings that many NHS workers have endured in the last decade, nor the Herculean sacrifices that health staff have and are continuing to make as COVID infection rates rapidly rise again. Members have been telling us that three per cent would be insulting and show that they are not valued – it doesn’t even match the four per cent the Scottish Government offered to NHS workers backdated to December 2020.

“Three per cent will also do very little to staunch the escalating ‘recruitment and retention’ crisis and free up resources to tackle the enormous backlog in non-COVID procedures, such as hip replacements. It is estimated there are 100,000 vacancies in the health service and very little in the way of a plan to recruit the numbers needed.”

The Royal College of Midwives also pushed back against the plan and said the pay rise was “still not enough.”

RCM’s Executive Director for External Affairs and one of the NHS Unions’ chief negotiators, Jon Skewes said: “At least the limbo our hardworking members were left in by our shambolic government has ended. We are disappointed that maternity staff in England will not receive a headline increase of 4 per cent like their colleagues in Scotland. Through our evidence to the Pay Review Body, we managed to secure more than the 1 per cent proposed by the Government, but again this is not backdated far enough or on par with the pay award in Scotland.

“The Government has already admitted that the NHS in England is short of over 2,000 midwives that are desperately needed to improve safety in maternity services. What no one wants to see is further staff shortages, but midwives and maternity staff have had enough, they feel undervalued, and some have already voted with their feet and a pay award of 3 per cent may not be enough to retain them.”