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Ministers indicate that nurses face more pay restraint next year


The government has indicated it expects to take the “same approach” to deciding pay increases for NHS staff in 2015-16 as it did this year.

It has also told the independent body that recommends pay increases for nurses and other NHS staff that its advice will not be needed next year, sparking warnings of its imminent demise from unions.

In a letter to the NHS Pay Review Body, chief secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander reiterated the government’s decision not to implement the advisory group’s recommendation of a blanket 1% pay rise this year.

“The NHS Pay Review Body will not be asked to make recommendations… in the 2015 pay round”

Danny Alexander

He said that, after “careful consideration”, the government had deemed the review body’s recommendation as “unaffordable at this time” – but hoped the group appreciated that it was a “difficult decision”.

Instead, all staff in England not eligible for an incremental pay rise will receive a 1% non-consolidated basic pay rise in 2014-15, but those due an increment will not.

Danny Alexander

Danny Alexander

“It is our intention to take the same approach in 2015-16,” Mr Alexander said. “As a result, the NHS Pay Review Body will not be asked to make recommendations on a pay award for Agenda for Change staff in the 2015 pay round.”

Mr Alexander went on to criticise the health unions for not being prepared to negotiate an “affordable alternative”, but added that he “greatly valued” the contribution that the public sector pay review bodies played in determining national pay awards.

The letter forms the latest move in the government’s increasingly tough stance on NHS pay, which began in March when ministers ignored the review body’s latest recommendations and led last month to four unions announcing dates for ballots on industrial action.

“The government is being deliberately provocative”

Christina McAnea

Unison called the latter a “slap in the face to NHS staff”, adding that it was a “provocative” move ahead of the ballots, some of which are due to begin later this month and some in September.

Christina McAnea, Unison’s head of health, said: “The government is going ahead and denying the vast majority [of NHS staff] a pay rise – not just for this year, but for next year too.”

“The Pay Review Body has kept the industrial peace for many years and by ignoring it this year and casting it aside for next, the government is being deliberately provocative,” she said.

“We are willing to sit down and settle the dispute, but there cannot be any pre-conditions for talks,” she added.

Meanwhile, Unite said the letter “sounded the death knell” for the pay review body.

Barrie Brown, the union’s national officer for health, said: “It is clear from Danny Alexander’s statement that NHS staff pay is set to become a political football.”

Barrie BrownBarrie Brown

Mr Alexander also noted that the government would shortly be asking the NHS Pay Review Body to carry out a review of the Agenda for Change pay structure.

The review will consider changing the contract so that it “might better support the challenges facing the NHS in terms of both patient care and affordability”, he said.  

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has previously said that the government is prepared to negotiate a better pay deal this year, in return for a further dilution of terms and conditions in Agenda for Change.


Readers' comments (17)

  • Any one interested..... post in Dorchester closing date 15/08/14 for Director of Quality up to £95000 salary (nhs jobs).

    I know I can do the job advertised, but can the person they choose be competent enough to do my job, on a busy,heavy Elderly care ward for the peanuts I get.

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  • And the pay rise MPs are due to get is...11%...

    That smell? Why, that would be hypocrisy and naked self-interest...

    Didn't notice any of those politicians lining up to do my overdose assessments and the like.

    Maybe I should stand for parliament: seems like money for old rope, given the numbers of MPs who have time for second, third and fourth jobs (one nursing job had me knackered!)...

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  • If they want to see widespread strikes rather than pay a below-inflation increase, then game on, we'll see who blinks first when there's a general election at stake.

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  • Tinkerbell

    at least all nurses should now know where they stand and who not to vote for.

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  • That must be over 600,000 health professionals who won't be voting for the conservatives next general election then.

    I did everything the RCN recommended such as writing to my mp, only to be fobbed off. I have joined UNITE now because striking is the only way I can see us being heard.

    That said, I feel the main reason we are in this situation is because most nurses don't even have a clue what's going on. I get a lot of blank faces and shrugs when I instigate the conversation.

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  • What a crying shame!

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  • RE: Anonymous 07 Aug 3.05 pm

    You are so right in your comments about nurses being politically clueless. I have been striving to get nurses in my workplace to take an interest about unfair changes to the mileage policy, and the pay situation. They are seemingly disinterested in that many community nurses are now losing around £500 out of taxed income due to reduced mileage reimbursement. And they simply don't get this derisory 1% pay increase and the fact that it is non-consolidated - if and when we are offered proper inflation-linked pay increases we will be starting from a much lower benchmark. I have made myself unpopular with management for daring to speak the truth, but I've long since gone past caring. I am in Unison and I don't understand why I keep paying them for nothing - I know they are not on the side of workers. Bring on the ballot, I will have no hesitation in striking as it is the only language this govennment understands. I will not be bribed that nurses have a no-strike policy, and that nursing is a vocation. The only reason I come to work is to keep a roof over my head. Someone needs to rally the NHS workforce to strike properly (not a work to rule or a miserable few hours) and then see what happens. I will feel sorry for the inconvenience to the public, but for God's sake, enough is enough.

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  • Dear Mr Cameron,

    Just because you can draft the army in to cover for striking firemen don't think you can do the same for nurses.

    You need to know the fuse has been lit, nurses will strike and strike big time.

    While you don't know me, please, please take note that if people like me are ready to strike, a significant number are now ready.

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  • I have to agree it is time that nurses took action independently as our professional bodies and unions appear to have no power at all. If MP are public sector representatives then it is their turn to have the 1% pay and nurses will accept the 11% that they are expecting and totally deserve. Working to rule and little strike activity has not worked so is this time to call an all out action day regardless of what management has to say. My main and upmost concern is for our patients who are always but the the middle.

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  • Cant actually remember the last proper pay rise we had can anyone else? the teachers are in the news all the time complaining about how they are treated and organising strikes. Why are the nursing unions so quiet?

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