The 2.75% recommended by the NHS Pay Review Body was known to ministers two weeks before the report was officially submitted on 4 April, NT understands. This allowed the government to gain an advantage in negotiations with Unison and the RCN, which led to the 7.99% three-year deal unveiled on 7 April.
‘[The figure] was certainly leaked to the government at least two weeks before, probably more,’ a source told NT. ‘If it knew what the PRB was going to award, it could do something about that by making an offer of the three-year deal. It allowed the government to secure a multi-year deal.
‘In the last 10 years we have never seen anything like that,’ the source said. ‘That shows the signs of desperation from the government and NHS Employers to achieve a three-year deal.’
Mike Jackson, Unison’s senior national officer, confirmed that the 2.75% figure was on the table in talks the week before the PRB report was published.
He said: ‘We did know the headline figure before the report was published but that is not unusual. It means negotiators can make recommendations to the unions to prepare their responses.’
A Department of Health spokesperson did not deny the leak, stating that the PRB recommendation was officially submitted on Friday 4 April.
The RCN, which is currently consulting members on the offer, has officially backed the proposal. Unison, which is to ballot members on the deal next month, has neither recommended to accept nor reject the offer. There was a near 50/50 split in a vote at this month’s Unison healthcare conference (NT News, 22 April, p2).
However, other unions not party to the discussions have recommended members reject the offer. Unite/Amicus has rejected it, the Royal College of Midwives is consulting members with a recommendation to reject, and the GMB will ballot in May, with a recommendation to reject.