A pay rise of just 1% for NHS staff will leave nurses “struggling”, unions claim.
The government announced yesterday that all NHS employees covered by the agenda for change framework will receive the 1% rise next month, bringin to an end a two year pay freeze.
The rise - less than half the current consumer price index inflation rate of 2.7% - means that staff are effectively having their pay cut following two years of pay freezes, unions said.
Peter Carter, general secretary of the RCN, said the increase would not “restore the 9% gap” caused by the two year public sector pay freeze.
He added: “There is no doubt that nurses and healthcare assistants are really struggling to keep their heads above water financially as their pay levels are failing to keep pace with inflation. The reality of increasing living costs mean we are seeing higher numbers of our members in debt and unable to meet mortgage payments.”
Christina McAnea, head of health at union Unison, said: “What kind of message does it send to health workers about the value this government places on their work? And what incentive is there for young people to join the NHS when they are so undervalued?
“Freezing and squeezing pay is crushing morale and heaping financial misery on more than a million NHS workers. At the same time, the NHS is going through a massive reorganisation and staff are dealing with job cuts, rationing and ever increasing patient numbers.
Meanwhile, GPs will receive a 1.3% “contract uplift” to cover their pay and costs of running their practices, less than the 2.29% recommended by the Doctors’ and Dentists’ Review Body (DDRB).
Other salaried doctors will receive a 1% increase in line with other public sector workers.
Health Minister Dr Dan Poulter said that pay restraint was “essential” across the public sector and pointed out the majority of staff on agenda for change contracts could also receive annual performance-related pay increases averaging 3.5%.
NHS Employers, an organisation which represents health service employers, recommended to the pay review board that the public sector pay freeze should continue for a third year in a row.
The organisation said that the wage increase would put “unnecessary” financial pressure on the health service.
Chief executive Dean Royles said: “I am still deeply perplexed that the independent pay review bodies have recommended any increase at all.
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“We gave compelling evidence to the pay review bodies on pay levels, staff turnover and improvements in job satisfaction, arguing that a pay increase this year wasn’t necessary and would add additional cost pressures to NHS trusts in what we know will be an extremely challenging year.”