Human resources managers in the NHS have signaled their desire for an end to pay restraint in the health service, with nearly half calling for NHS staff to receive a pay rise in line with inflation in 2015-16.
Just under half of HR managers, 47%, believe if the financial environment for the NHS remains as predicted, staff should receive a pay rise matching inflation, according to a survey by Nursing Times sister title Health Service Journal.
Meanwhile, 22% of managers supported a 1% pay rise for all staff and 16% supported the idea of extending the government’s current policy of giving a pay to those not eligible for an increment.
The findings provide an insight into the views of 130 HR managers across a range of workforce issues affecting the health serice, including pay and recruitment.
Support for the end of below inflation pay rises for NHS staff echoes the views of senior NHS leaders in the recent Five Year Forward View, which warned pay for NHS staff would need to keep up with the private sector to avoid recruitment and retention problems.
“Employers should join with us to lobby the government for more funding”
More than half of HR managers, 55%, said they were not confident their organisation had enough nurses to meet demand over the next six months with the majority planning to recruit nurses from abroad.
Almost three quarters of HR directors, 72%, said they expected the number of nurses in their organisation to increase over the next six months, despite the growing strain on NHS trust finances.
In spite of HR managers supporting the idea of inflation pay rises, an overwhelming majority, 87%, supported a review of the Agenda for Change contract for non-medical staff.
This is despite a deal being agreed between trade unions and NHS Employers in February 2013.
Of those who supported reform, 71% said changes were needed to sick pay entitlements while 60% supported changes to unsocial hours enhancements and pay structure. A total of 37% said there should be reform of annual leave and redundancy provisions.
Asked to rate the morale of staff, one in five managers said it was either “very poor” or “poor”, with 70% describing it as moderate and 11% as either high or very high.
More than half of HR directors believe the review of whistleblowing in the NHS being led by Sir Robert Francis QC will help to improve the confidence of staff to raise concerns in their organisation.
But three quarters of managers responding to HSJ’s survey also said they had seen more staff inappropriately claiming whistleblowing status in the last six months.
The review, set up by health secretary Jeremy Hunt, is examining the issue of whistleblowing and is expected to be published by the end of November.
Christina McAnea, head of health at Unison and chair of the union staff side council, welcomed employers support for inflation pay rise, but added: “Employers should join with us to lobby the government for more funding.”
On reviewing the pay, terms and conditions of staff, she said unions would welcome talks on changes but not if it was solely to cut costs.
She said: “Agenda for Change works, it’s just that there’s not enough money being put into it. We agreed a deal in 2013 and that has hardly been adopted by employers as it is.”