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Employers to demand fresh pay freeze for NHS staff

Nurses should not get a basic rise in pay next April, according to the NHS Employers organisation, which is claiming a 1% rise would cost £500m.

Meanwhile, unions have said NHS nurses are suffering stress and low morale due to the combination of government reforms and below-inflation pay rises.

The contrasting views represent the first salvoes in the annual process in which government advisory group the NHS Pay Review Body decides whether to recommend a basic pay rise to ministers based on evidence submitted by employers, unions and the government.  

Unions have submitted their evidence to the Pay Review Body claiming that staff have not had a real-terms pay increase since 2006.

But NHS Employers is expected to argue that “pay drift” – due to staff moving up Agenda for Change increments – means 55% of NHS staff will receive basic pay increases, averaging 3.4% in 2013-14. Over the past three years, pay drift for non-medical staff has averaged around 0.9%.

Unions claim the government’s on-going below inflation pay cap of 1% means NHS staff have suffered a real-terms pay cut equivalent to 8-12%. This has come on the back of a two year pay freeze in 2011 and 2012, plus increases in pension contributions.

But NHS Employers says unprecedented financial challenges means a pay increase is unaffordable. In its submission to the Pay Review Body, it is expected to say any pay rise should be linked to future pay reform and negotiations over seven day working.

The idea comes as the organisation is about to begin contract negotiations with both junior doctors and NHS consultants, during which seven day working is expected to form a major part of the discussions.

If the pay review body accepts the recommendation it could mean NHS Employers will seek further changes to the Agenda for Change framework, despite a new deal having only been agreed in February this year.

Christina McAnea, joint chair of the NHS Staff Council and head of health at Unison, said: “This, together with cuts in staffing and services, increased demand and, in England, the huge NHS re-organisation, has led to low morale and high stress levels.

Josie Irwin, from the Royal College of Nursing and joint secretary of the NHS Staff Council, said: “Claiming that fair wages cannot be afforded, while the latest figures show senior managers have enjoyed substantial pay increases, sends the message to frontline staff that their contributions are not valued, which is bad for staff and bad for the NHS.”

Meanwhile, the Unite union wants any pay rise to be “bottom loaded” as a flat cash sum to help the lowest paid members of staff.

Recent data from the NHS Information Centre showed the average annual basic pay in the 12 months to June 2013 for NHS staff was £29,543.

Doctors – excluding locums and GPs – earned £58,813, a 1.4% increase on 2012 and a 5.5% increase on 2009. Consultants saw a 0.5% rise to £87,584, while doctors in training saw pay increase 1% to £26,056.

Qualified nurses, including midwives and health visitors, were paid an average of £30,619, a 0.6% increase on 2012 and a 7.5% increase on 2009.

Senior managers saw the largest percentage increase on 2012 at 1.8%, up to £75,759, and also the largest percentage increase on 2009, at 12.9%.

The Consumer Price Index measure of inflation has varied since 2009 from 1.1-5.2%.

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Readers' comments (21)

  • I can't say I'm surprised with NHS employer's attitude: they know that the unions are little more than inward-looking talking-shops (particularly the RCN), they know that staff need their jobs and are very unlikely to strike and that there is little sympathy from the general public thanks to the well-organised negative media campaign.

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  • Why do employers insist on quoting the statistically meaningless average? Of more significance is the Median or 50th centile salary, which gives a truer picture.

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  • totally not surprised, the more the weak-willed unions back-peddle the more the bullish management will erode the rights of the workers and renage on agreements before the ink is even dry. I don't blame the management, I blame the ineffectual unions....are they worth the membership fee???

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  • I actually now feel like striking!!
    I have never ever thought this before but i cant look after patients under these circumstances and to have to do it again with no pay increments when fat cat bosses of all industry including NHS are raking it just not doing it.
    None of us came into this job for the money god knows that, but a decent wage and working conditions for the work we do should not be too much to ask.

    Thats it.... Im out!!!

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  • i hope the NHS employers apply the logic to their own jobs .............all for one one for all

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  • Front line staff are not valued by NHS Managers, except in lip service. There are so many of them compared to other groups of staff and they are an easy target, because they do not think they should withdraw their services ever. And the unions don't know what to do.
    If I had my time again I might be a clerical assistant, then progress, via a degree and a couple of meaningless courses, to be a senior manager on loads of money!

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  • how many years has this pay freeze been going on? As one on the top of the increment scale, I don't get an annual increment increase either.

    I know life is not about money, but what is the point staying in a dead-end job with no prospects?

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  • how many years has this pay freeze been going on? It seems like more than 2! As one on the top of the increment scale, I don't get an annual increment increase either.

    I know life is not about money, but what is the point staying in a dead-end job with no prospects?

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  • I agree with the above ... Also with rise in NMC fees and what do the unions actually do?

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  • Anonymous | 25-Sep-2013 5:15 pm

    A union can only be as active as its membership. The last time the unions balloted their membership about taking action, only 16% of RCN members bothered to vote, and Unison didn't fair much better. So basically, the union members instructed their unions to do nothing. If you want something done, let your union know. If you don't like the leadership, they can be voted out. Let's be honest, when was the last time most nurses emailed or phoned their local branch, or spoke to their steward to express their views and concerns? Or used the ballot papers posted out by their union to let their views be counted? Tell your union directly what you think they should be doing. Then ask yourself what you are prepared to do for a decent wage for you and your colleagues. It will require much more than a bit of bleating and a monthly diect debit.

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  • Is it any wonder that we struggle to attract and keep good and experienced nurses. What is even more worrying is that not only is this degrading our salary and standard of living now the pension we will ultimately receive is being continually devalued. We are paying more contributions, in many cases working longer but receiving less at the end.
    Once nurses are lost from the profession they are less likely to return, the continual devaluing nurses and increasing use of non-professional staff HAS demonstrably harmed patients increasing morbidity and mortality. When will the NHS, professions and patients wake up to the destruction of the service and the long term damage it will do.

    The current changes are doing to the NHS, what Beeching did to the Railways. Some say he saved the railways BUT many more think that the removal of huge amounts of infrastructure will continue to impact us, whether or not HS2 gets built. He left huge amounts of the country with no realistic access to public transport and thus has dramatically increased private vehicle use and global warming. Already many groups of patients are being refused care for certain conditions, and the quality of care is being impacted despite the significant efforts of nurses, often in their own time, to meet patient needs.

    Wake up and treat nurses with the respect they deserve. Increments are NOT a pay rise, and the majority of experienced staff will not get them at all. It is disappointing that the managers who appear to have had the biggest rises in this time are wishing to persecute those under the greatest pressure in the service. Cut the salaries of those on 9 and above by 10% and Chief Execs by 20% and I am sure you would be able to pay those delivering real change in the NHS the cost of living rises they deserve. None of us are asking for the 25% MPs think they deserve, but half of that might restore some of the morale in the profession.

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  • Everybody out!!

    Oh wait a minute, we don't do that sort of thing, do we? Nah, we just shuffle around mumbling and moaning. That must mean that we actually think that we don't deserve a pay rise. It would appear that the employers agree with us.

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  • Somewhere in this article the average nurses salary is said to be £30,000. That's only for those well up the incremental ladder and with nights and weekend enhancements. It makes me sick.

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  • Anonymous | 26-Sep-2013 10:29 pm

    Good point.

    I believe Mark Twain attributed the following to Disraeli, but it always rings true to me;

    "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."

    It would appear the NHS Employers are guilty on all three counts.

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  • just give the pay rise to band 7 and below, that would cut the bill drastically

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  • Cut the Board pay bill by 15%, Put a ban on use of taxies, ban the purchases of food for meetings (as this tends to be for well paid managers) ban all lease cars except clinical staff, ban parking bays for non clinical staff, ban the use of plain, trains for UK travel use coaches, ban offices except for clinical staff, ban use of hotels use B&B (pay for your on breakfast).

    Put that to NHS Employers, most of whom benefit and expect all the above perks, they will never agree to give up their perks and employ more nurses.

    Now ask NHS Employers to calculate how much that will save and take that away from the 500 million they are so worried abut.

    Do you think they will support this idea. Not a chance they want their perks, their fat salaries and are happy to make underpaid nurses suffer, reduce patient care, while chumping into an expensive evening meal often with alcohol included paid for by the tax payer , or look at this way keep nurses under paid, that will pay for the perks hey love so much.

    Just a thought

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  • Nurse: United we ...
    Oh what does that word mean?

    The NHS get away with this because nobody knows what a highly skilled, complex profession Nursing is.
    And Nursing is always divided.

    You need to start a new union and start a campaign to get Nursing more recognised. You need to use the full power of the Internet.

    Before I came here, I only thought a Nurse looked after patients and made beds and cleaned them. Now I know how complex Nursing is and how many contradictions and how hard the job must be even in a fully staffed ward.

    Advertise all these manager's perks. Tell the public what is going on.

    The public trusts Nurses. I know I do.
    I am doing my bit - I am writing a play about you


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  • Anonymous | 25-Sep-2013 6:37 pm

    1. A union can only be as active as its membership.

    Answer :- No a union needs to activate its membership to be effective as a "union"

    2. Let's be honest, when was the last time most nurses emailed or phoned their local branch, or spoke to their steward to express their views and concerns?

    Answer :-When was the last time your branch steward asked you your views? Do you even know who your branch stewards are ?

    There was a time when Unions organised regular branch meetings within their respective hospitals, a time when every branch had a committee of branch officials that just about every member of staff knew where and how to find them.

    Unions were active and fought for the rights of their members, they had a connection and a more or less open door to managers who were prepared to listen and negotiate, some you'd win some you'd lose. Have those days gone?

    Instead of bleating on about going to your union is it not about time the union came to its members and engaged them on a personal level instead of pushing magazines and ballot papers through your letter box, 75% of which end up in the recycling bin.

    Time the Unions leaders got their act together and saught a mandate form their members to take action.

    The words of George Loveless, Tolpuddle Martyr, transported to the colonies.

    God is our guide! from field, from wave,
    From plough, from anvil, and from loom;
    We come, our country's rights to save,
    And speak a tyrant faction's doom:
    We raise the watch-word liberty;
    We will, we will, we will be free!

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  • Anonymous | 30-Sep-2013 10:42 am

    Anonymous | 25-Sep-2013 6:37 pm

    Yeah, I see your points but "6.27pm" was meaning a direct point to you and me.
    And its a good point - it means that we are active and not waiting for the Unions to come and hussle round us and maybe make us tea and scones whilst they warm our slippers by the fire.

    Our western culture (and what do I know) has lead us into this mollycoddle attitude where we wait for others to serve us because we 'deserve it'....wake up and lets all take some action.

    Maybe we could all start by emailing our unions and getting our collegues to email as well?

    Could someone write a 'generic template' that we could follow? (i would offer but i'm sh*te at that sort of thing...I'll have a go though!)

    Maybe then, NURSING TIMES could host it.

    you know....being active and all that?

    Hello...NT...anyone there?.....anyone?....

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  • Nurses,

    I am not a Nurse but can I ask a really silly question please?

    You see what I am learning on these pages is you are propping the NHS up and you are exceeding your working hours and you all care passionately for all your patients. And you are not appreciated for all this. You are a massive group yet also spectularly powerless - anyone can do anything to you and get away with it. Yet you are responsible for all your patients.

    You are being taken advantage of. NHS Employers know you would never, ever leave patients in pain or strike and make them suffer.

    A lot of you are under so much pressure yet...
    I sense lots of fear and anger and frustration on these pages of knowing what you have to do yet not actually doing it.

    What are you afraid of?
    What is holding you back?

    You need to take back your power step by step.

    Take the NMC for example. Why is there an organisation that only deals with Nurses and another one that deals with doctors?

    Wouldn't it be better to have an organisation that looks at the whole situation instead of having the NMC?

    Why don't you start all simply work your shift and no extra hours and let the whole system collapse around you?

    Use the Internet.
    Off Duty Nurses - Tell the public what is happening

    Replace the RCN with another union


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