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'The pay offer is smoke and mirrors'


Joan Pons Laplana, transformation nurse at James Paget University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, has his say on the recent pay rise proposals. 

After months of anticipation, the Department of Health and Social Care finally revealed the new NHS Pay proposal on Wednesday 21 March.

Yesterday, I watched Mr Hunt, who was participating in a parade, telling everyone how the Conservatives have managed to find the previously elusive ‘magic tree’ and as a result, some NHS staff will get an incredible 29% pay rise!

And our unions were telling us that we need to congratulate them for forcing the government to remove the ‘you can have a pay rise if you agree to lose a day’s annual leave’ clause.

But if someone threatens you with a slap and a punch, but later changes his mind, deciding only to punch you, do I need to thank them? This is not a concession.

“In terms of retention, this pay deal will do more harm than good”

So, the proposed pay deal sounds good no? Like thousands of you I went to the NHS Pay website.

I went to the pay calculator, and to my surprise, I found that in next three years I was going to get a whopping 16.5% pay increase. I nearly phoned my partner to book a much needed holiday to the Canary Islands!

But before I uncorked the champagne I decided to look deeper. Part of my job is to analyse data and look for patterns. I soon discovered that if you are at the top of your band, you will be a big loser.

Because the offer will reduce the number of points in each band, the large number of nurses and health workers people near the top will lose their annual pay progression.

They are the ones who had the full impact of the pay cap in last eight years, as they couldn’t have an annual pay progression. They’ll continue to be punished by this NHS Pay offer.

The unions are also telling us that staff on lower pay grades will get more. But let’s not forget that in last few years, NHS trusts have outsourced many of these staff to private companies, so will not be eligible for #NHSpay18.

This is another smoke-screen to divide us.

I heard that this pay deal will help with recruitment and retention. Let’s look into it: Let’s say your current salary is £22,128; by 2020 it will rise to £24,907. That’s an 11% rise, but when you adjust for predicted inflation, it’s hardly a golden hello.

I don’t predict a sudden surge of teenagers queueing to be nurses in next few years. On the contrary, due the removal of bursaries I predict that the number of student nurses will continue to decline.

In terms of retention, this pay deal will do more harm than good. Recent figures show a mass exodus of long-serving nurses who are at the top of their pay band. This deal is an attack to the most experienced nurses – they are priceless; they mentor and guide the newly qualify nurses and share their experiences.

Since these nurses have left, the number of nurses leaving the NHS within a year of qualifying has increased as they don’t feel supported.

The crisis in the NHS is deepening every day. Nurses are leaving in droves and overall, this deal will do nothing to improve the dire working conditions that nurses are suffering on a daily basis.

Whichever way you spin this, in real terms, nurses will have suffered a 14% pay cut over recent years, and a deal that would see us just break even in Year 1 with a real-terms pay cut in years two and three is simply not acceptable.

It is beyond my comprehension why unions think that a deal that will make us poorer is a good deal.

Frankly, I think it’s an insult and I recommend everyone reject it.

joan pons laplana

joan pons laplana

Joan Pons Laplana


Readers' comments (4)

  • I totally agree, and this link explains it in greater detail

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  • I totally agree - this is good for lower band staff who really deserve it - but for band 5 and above at the top of their banding it’s a pittance well under inflation !!

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  • This is a real kick in the teeth and may well be the final straw.
    The Goverment appears to want to recruit, but do not want to retain nurses. The unions have let us all down, appear to be congratulating themselves on a wonderful deal.

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  • When I went in for nursing, my parents warned me that it would be hard work for little reward--this has been the case for decades, in fact, probably ever since nursing began: the reward lies in the knowledge that if you are a 'good' nurse, you have been of inestimable help to your fellow human beings--possibly this does not go hand in hand with leading a 'normal' life, bringing up a family, etc, but life is full of choices--it is unusual to be able to both have your cake and eat it. I know some are likely to react with 'where the hell's the cake?', but I would say, if you really don't know, then perhaps its time to look for an alternative profession---all the best!

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