We asked our readers what they think of the new pay proposals. Here, Cara Large of Russells Hall Hospital has her say…
Following eight years of pay restraint resulting in 1% pay rises for NHS staff since 2010, on 21 March 2018 NHS staff awoke to headlines of “up to 29% pay rises for 1.3 million NHS staff” which followed extensive campaigning and negotiations by healthcare unions and their members.
There was additional clarification from healthcare unions, with the Royal College of Nursing echoing the media headlines by encouraging their members to have their say, urging them to accept the three-year pay deal on offer.
As someone who doesn’t take information at face value, I read the proposal in some detail.
As a newly qualified nurse (NQN) at the bottom of band 5, it was reported that I would be one of those individuals set to be in line for the larger rises, with the pay calculator showing I would receive 21.88% over the three years.
This, to me, did not look right - and according to my Twitter feed others felt the same.
After hunting for more documentation and explanation of these figures I realised that what was quoted included incremental pay rises taking me from a spine point 16, to the second tier of the new four-tier system to achieve this figure.
“Nothing I learned concurred with what I was being told by the media, the government and my union. I feel bitterly disappointed by the misrepresentation of figures”
This incremental pay is not guaranteed. It is based upon improved knowledge and performance in your role measured via appraisal.
Comparing like for like, a band 5 NQN’s £22,128 salary in 2018 will rise to £24,907 by 2021; that represents an increase of around 12.5%.
I then compared where I COULD be in terms of banding in three years without the pay offer. I could be on spine point 19 (£24,547); compare that with what they propose I could be earning in 2021 including the rise (£26,970), which equates to around 9.9%.
Furthermore, discounting the new pay offer, if I hit my personal targets and move up the banding as is predicted I would already be receiving a rise of £2,419 over three years not including the 1% annual increases, which would be just shy of 11%.
This fails to include those workers who are currently at the top of their band who will receive no more than the 6.5% over three years. Where is their incentive for all of the hard work and experience?
What about the real terms pay cut we have already endured, and what about the fact that inflation is currently 2.7%? 6.5% over three years is 2.17% per year, so still a sub-inflationary rise.
“I feel let down, misled and angry. NHS staff need to fully understand the offer that is on the table, and the government and some healthcare unions are making this almost impossible”
Nothing I learned concurred with what I was being told by the media, the government and my union. I feel bitterly disappointed by the misrepresentation of figures and ‘dressing up’ of the offer to NHS workers and the public.
It took a lot of research and reading to make sense of the figures we have been provided with to form an accurate opinion on the proposal. Additionally, when writing this piece, I found many of the documents I initially used seem to have disappeared, making it almost impossible to analyse the deal correctly.
Without full and clear information, people cannot make an educated decision and have their voice heard. I feel the whole proposal has been underhand, with strategic leaks, such as the rumour we may lose a day annual leave in exchange for a pay rise, which the leads staff to think “at least we didn’t lose our holiday” and accept the new deal without question.
My union has encouraged members to accept this offer, or risk returning to the 1% rises we have been subjected to and have worked so hard to overturn. To me this just sounds like a threat and blackmail to accept a sub-standard deal.
I feel let down, misled and angry. NHS staff need to fully understand the offer that is on the table, and the government and some healthcare unions are making this almost impossible.
Clarity is needed, and our voices need to be heard for us to fight for the rise we deserve.
Cara Large is a newly qualified staff nurse at Russells Hall Hospital, critical care department