NHS pay proposal criticised by health unions

Hospital corridor The NHS's £109bn budget is under severe pressure

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Unions have criticised government moves to halt a 1% pay rise for all NHS staff in England.

The Department of Health said the increase was unaffordable alongside the current system which sees many staff automatically receive incremental annual rises.

It has urged the NHS pay review body to withhold the rise for 1.3m staff.

Rachael Maskell, of the Unite trade union, said staff deserved the pay reward for "holding the NHS together".

Health trusts are currently under pressure to make savings and the NHS wage bill accounts for around 40% of its budget.

All public sector pay increases are capped at 1%.

The Department of Health (DoH) proposes using the funding intended for the rise to "modernise" pay structures.

It says automatic increments - linked to length of service and satisfactory performance - add £900m to salary costs.

The DoH has stressed no decisions on changes to pay have been taken, insisting independent bodies will make their recommendations in February or March next year.

But the plans, outlined in the DoH's submission to two independent pay review bodies, have been criticised by Unite and Labour.

Ms Maskell, of Unite, said: "The Department of Health have got other choices. They're entering into a reorganisation which is costing £3bn, which nobody asked for and isn't adding anything to patient care.

"It is about choices and the NHS staff have already had two years of a pay freeze - 1% last year - and, quite frankly, are really falling behind inflation now with their wages."

Staff morale

She told BBC Radio 4's Today programme motivation and morale was down among frontline health workers "at this very difficult time".

However, in its submission the DoH points to a staff survey suggesting high levels of motivation and morale and says there should only be basic pay increases if there is "strong evidence" recruitment, retention, morale or motivation issues require this.

Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said the NHS reorganisation had taken money out of front-line services.

Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said the move would be ''a kick in the teeth'' for staff

"There has to be pay restraint in the NHS as well as other public services... but the NHS has been through some very difficult years - so have NHS staff - and this was a modest increase to recognise the pressure that all families are under.

"To take it away, to break that promise, is just another kick in the teeth."

Staff representatives have also reacted angrily to the plans.

"What they have done is inflammatory," said Christina McAnea, head of health at Unison and joint chairwoman of the NHS Staff Council.

"We are not going to negotiate while a gun is held to our head for a paltry 1% pay rise - our members will not react well to that."

Dr Mark Porter, chairman of the British Medical Association council said this would not result in staff leaving in their "droves".

However he added: "We're going to find it increasingly hard to recruit, partly for the specialist skills and partly for the numbers of staff that we'd need to bring into the health service to implement the safe minimum staffing levels."

Health Minister Anna Soubry says the NHS needs a "modern, fit for purpose" pay system

Health minister Anna Soubry defended the government 's stance telling the BBC: "This is about making sure we pay our NHS staff well and we reward their improvement in skills.

"This system works in other public sectors and the private sector. People want to make sure that they are getting good quality, first class services especially at a time when the NHS faces challenges."

Earlier a DoH spokeswoman said: "Many NHS staff have continued to receive pay rises of up to 3.5% and we want to keep working with the trade unions and employers on affordable pay.

"The measures we are proposing will help increase quality for patients and help us realise our vision of an affordable seven-day service."

In June Chancellor George Osborne said ministers were working to "remove automatic pay rises" for teachers, health professionals, prison and police staff.

The DoH drew attention to Mr Osborne's comments and confirmed it wanted NHS pay to have "stronger links to performance, quality and productivity".


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  • rate this

    Comment number 652.

    The point is:- public sector workers are paid from the taxes of the private sector worker. So more public sector workers may reduce unemployment BUT they do nothing to help the finances of the UK.
    Reduce the number of public sector workers (including the NHS) and encourage people to get proper jobs that contribute something useful.

  • rate this

    Comment number 651.

    Millions for business bosses but petty cash for public sector workers. is being portrayed as Nurses etc being selfish!! Will this gov. get things in proportion and work out that if the right amount of tax was squeezed from the biggest avoiders and evasion practitioners, the countries problems would be fixed and Osborn could get credit for it. BUT he would be an out cast from his social group!!!.

  • rate this

    Comment number 650.

    @ Bradford 94

    You really have no idea have you and cannot see any further than the spin that this Government is drip feeding the electorate

  • rate this

    Comment number 649.


    Uk consultants do not earn anything like a quarter of a million a year.
    Less than 100k after training at university and during specialist rotation taking over 15years.

    I do not think that is excessive.

  • rate this

    Comment number 648.

    If the public knew how much time doctors had to spend filling in portfolios to prove they were doing their job properly they would be horrified. It wastes time of trainee doctors, but more seriously their senior colleagues who then have to go through them. I would rather my doctor was seeing patients, rather then writing "I was sensitive when breaking bad news to patient X". This waste must stop

  • rate this

    Comment number 647.

    Divide and conquer. Generate antagonism between the masses in the private sector and the public sector, while at the same time those in charge: politicians, directors, senior staff, board members etc etc continue to reward themselves at ever increasing levels. The true division is not private .v. public, it is the wealthy & powerful .v. the impotent.

  • rate this

    Comment number 646.

    I am at the top of my band, so in the last 3 years have had a 1% pay rise while paying 4% more into my pension and 1% more National Insurance. I could move to the private sector doing the same work for the NHS, probably get paid more, providing the NHS a worse service while charging them more...

  • rate this

    Comment number 645.

    I fail to see how the NHS is being starved of resources. The Budget shows £129.7bn NHS expenditure this year or 18% of all gov £718.8bn expenditure. This will necessitate borrowing yet another £110-120bn from the despised rich investors who buy gov bonds. If people want to see more than £129.7bn spent on the NHS where is it to come from? More borrowings? Welfare, Education etc? A real question

  • rate this

    Comment number 644.

    "basic pay increases should only be implemented if there is strong evidence that recruitment, retention, morale or motivation issues require this"

    So forget fairness or the idea that peoples earning should at least stay in line with inflation when they get their heads down and work uncomplainingly. So long as you don't complain or protest on the streets the government will stick the knife in!

  • rate this

    Comment number 643.

    If you voted Lib/Tory you got what you voted for.

  • rate this

    Comment number 642.

    Once Public Opinion turns against the NHS its days will be numbered but Government has it on slow drip till its demise, when the public give the nod, sigh, saying “well it had to go, look at the state it was in”. It’s the British way. It’s up to us now. It will be us not politicians who kill the NHS. Otherwise, I give it 2.920 days before announcement to phase in private plans announced.

  • Comment number 641.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 640.

    I'd like the Governments pay (particularly George Osborne) to have "stronger links to performance, quality and productivity".
    A massive pay-cut and increased hours would surely commence immediately based on those criteria.
    The sooner the people of this country realise the Government is accountable to us and we can do something about it the better, roll on the next general election.

  • rate this

    Comment number 639.

    Cameron is a NWO Warmonger USA Footstool

    Supported Illegal War in Syria covertly but got scuppered by the honest

    Enabled illegal murder of Gadaffi World Richest Man (robbing $250 billion)

    Hoof dirty warmongers out of office

    We don't want no USA Healthcare Sellouts by Bums in Orifices

    Fox Hunting with the Rich and Switch Sellouts Toffs
    Camerons achievements First Blood in War and Screwed UK

  • rate this

    Comment number 638.


    Funny. My wife's just left the NHS for a private sector healthcare job of the same grade- and taken a pay increase of 36% in the process. "average wage or above" Yeah, right.

  • rate this

    Comment number 637.

    We know it, and 'they' know it. We are public-spirited, not all geniuses at maths or economics or political argument, and we will AT NEED go to war, go down mines, patrol the wards 'at times' not just turn-about 'day & night' but for days on end, to the despair & ruin of our families, and depriving the unemployed of work needed 'by them and us'. We see NEED, give TRUST, and unequal are CONNED.

  • rate this

    Comment number 636.

    I worked in the NHS for 25 years paid in £30,000 in pension payments , now I get £20,000 a year pension, that goes up every year with inflation. I got 3.2% pay rise this year !!!! For anyone in the private sector to get that pension they would need £800,000+ in pension pot !!!! I’m lucky , but let’s get real we can’t afford these levels of pensions it isn't fair.

  • rate this

    Comment number 635.


    I bet that the 10% was probably 4 people and offered other postitions within the NHS

    You get more out more than you put in as its final salary which is index linked, unlike the private sector.

    Most people have a qualification of some sort. the private sector have to pay for it themselves not state funded.out of there salary.

    The NHS is not free what do pay National insurance for.

  • rate this

    Comment number 634.

    You donate blood for free but it now sold to the NHS after the private sector as processed it all because this government sold off the NHS Blood processing to the private sector

    No wonder the NHS as to save so much money because it as had it's profit making parts sold off and as to buy back supplies from the private sector

  • rate this

    Comment number 633.

    NHS England has added 450,000 people to its payroll in 13 years. Given current employment is 1.4m or thereabouts this represents an approximate 40% increase in staffing levels. Can I ask if productivity has improved by 40% in that time?
    And I don't mean in terms of numbers killed.
    If they got absenteeism under control - straightforward HR in most organisations - I might be more sympathetic.


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