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Employers to argue for third year of pay freeze


The body representing all major health service employers is to call for the NHS pay freeze to be extended into a third year to “protect services and minimise job losses”.

NHS Employers is to ask the Doctors’ and Dentists’ Review Body to extend the freeze for a further year and will subsequently recommend pay is frozen for all groups of NHS staff, Nursing Times’ sister title Health Service Journal has learnt.

Across the public sector the government had indicated it would allow a below-inflation 1% increase. However, in a move set to anger nurses and other staff, it is understood NHS Employers will say such an increase is not needed in the NHS when workers continue to receive automatic incremental pay rises under Agenda for Change rules.

Pay constitutes approximately 70% of NHS trusts’ budgets, with a total of £22.6bn being spent in 2011-12. A 1% increase would therefore add a further £226m to the overall bill.

NHS Employers will also tell the review body that incremental “drift”, where staff progress automatically through pay bands, adds around 2% to each NHS trust’s pay bill.

In total the two year pay freeze between April 2011 and March 2013 was predicted to save £3.3bn by 2014-15.

NHS Employers will tell the review body that the “current national pay and conditions arrangements are increasingly not affordable for employers” faced with improving patient care while achieving efficiency savings.

It will add: “There is no evidence from employers that any increase in the national scales is necessary for the recruitment, retention or motivation of staff.”

The news is likely to increase tensions between NHS Employers and health unions, which are engaged in national negotiations to alter Agenda for Change.

Union leaders have already threatened to walk away from the talks after a group of 20 trusts in the South West formed their own consortium to consider breaking away from the national framework.

In 2010-11 NHS Employers tried to negotiate a national deal with unions to freeze increments in return for no compulsory redundancies but the offer was rejected.

The Department of Health and unions are expected to make their submissions to the review body before the end of the month.

Public sector pay is in the spotlight at this week’s Labour conference in Manchester, where party leader Ed Miliband and shadow chancellor Ed Balls provoked union anger by backing the current pay freeze.

Unison head of health Christina McAnea accused NHS Employers of “petty scaremongering”.

She said: “It’s time for employers, and the body that represents them, to get real. Staff are really struggling; their pay has been frozen for two years while their pension contributions have increased and the cost of living has soared. At the same time they have been coping with a massive reorganisation of the health service.

“There are long term financial issues that have to be addressed – procurement and the cost of pharmaceuticals to name but two – but this won’t happen until employers stop dodging the issue, and stop trying to make short term savings on the back of staff.”


Readers' comments (42)

  • Dear Ed M and Ed B are you both also having a pay freeze?

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  • Are any politicians having a pay freeze? I don't think so. Enough said?........

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  • gets better and better

    why dont we all work for nothing!!!!

    that will save some money so the rich can get richer eh!!!

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  • I work in the SW where are they are trying to desperately cut our pay and conditions.
    So evidence feels that pay scales are unecessary for recruitment and retention?? What planet are they on, in my Trust they already cut nurses to the bone in most areas and it seems most wards are now short on most shifts. But no there is not the staff queuing up to work quite the opposite!
    Bet the managers, politicians etc are not having a pay cut or threat to their salaries.
    Agree with above.

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  • So lets kick the nurses in the teeth yet again. What do we have to do to get an honest wage.

    Not everyone is receiving increments so to say that everyone is getting a wage rise is very short sighted. A lot of hard working and dedicated staff who have been in the profession for years are on the top of their pay band so have not had a pay rise for years.

    Everything is going up, pension contributions, Gas and Electric etc etc. yet our wages have stood still for 2 years now. Why should we rollover and except another years pay freeze????

    Never heard of any other group of staff having a pay freeze. Perhaps all members of Parliment should have a 3 year pay freeze and the money saved ploughed back into the NHS that would solve a lot of financial issues dont you think ????

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  • A Trust in the southwest cartel is paying for agency staff to travel long distances from, for example, the Midlands, 150 miles away to cover shifts when levels are dangerously low. Agency use generally is seen to be rocketing. Agency nurses are good nurses on the whole, I have been one myself, but the lack of continuity, long travelling times and people working in areas outside their specialisms has an obvious detrimental effect on patient care, let alone costing a huge amount. We should not accept a threat to our terms and conditions when this ridiculous waste of resources is going on. And management should not be so ignorant and insensitive as to propose it.

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  • Florence

    I remember when the Tory/ Lib Dem '' Love -in'' sorry coalition... Now difficult marriage of convenience all began in 2010.
    A 2 year pay freeze to help protect our services and jobs....Is now potentially rolling into a 3rd.
    I am NOT surprised at this...
    Inflation doesnt freeze.
    I agree with the previous comment. Let our MP'S have a pay freeze.

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  • Don't think the NMC should increase their fees then!
    All is going up. fuel bills, petrol, food bills, pension contributions. Oh have to work to 66 years. I am at top of pay band for past four years, so no incremental rise there then!
    NO NO to regional payscales - make London and the South East even top heavier than it already is - there is life and most of the country live north of Watford Gap although NO government every acknowledges this. So nurses who can will vote with their feet to migrate south.

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  • Florence, you have triggered my reflections as follows and some of which may be repetitive of what you have already said.

    Arguably a pay freeze in times of austerity might be a solution to help a country's economy (although I am no economist, nor even claim to understand how it works so do not even know if this is the only or best solution, however it was the one citizens were given no choice but to go along with it). What I do think however is that it must concern everybody starting right at the top down but should stop before it reaches the poorest who would be unable to maintain their basic standard of living which would be unacceptable.

    If it was initially for an agreed length of time it should not simply be allowed to drift on, especially if unsuccessful, and whilst there is no freeze on price rises and at least the government owe clear and transparent explanations for their motives to gain cooperation instead of no understanding and anger. This is unsustainable.

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  • So how come unemployment benefit will rise by rate of inflation last September a whopping 5%

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