Health unions dismiss “tight-fisted” 3% pay offer for NHS workers

Unions have dismissed the government’s proposed 3% pay rise for NHS workers, saying it falls far short of what they deserve.

UNISON head of health Sara Gorton said: “This tight-fisted proposal ​falls well short of rising costs and staff hopes​. It’s barely half the rate of inflation, which is far from peaking and won’t for many more months.

​“This will go down like a lead balloon with health workers struggling to fill up at the pump, buy groceries and pay bills. It would be a wage cut in all but name.

“Nurses, healthcare assistants, hospital porters and others have borne a heavy responsibility during the pandemic. Now government expects the NHS team to work miracles with the Covid backlog, despite the growing staffing void.

“The government’s told private firms struggling to recruit to pay premium wages. ​But ministers ​aren’t prepared to do the same for the NHS. Holding down ​health worker wages won’t stop the inflation spiral. But it would mean floods of NHS ​staff quitting for less stressful, more lucrative jobs. ​

“Staff feel so dispirited, many already have one foot out the door. This substandard amount will convince many it’s time to part company with the NHS.

“Without ​the emergency fix ​proposed, thousands of the lowest paid health workers would have been earning illegal wages when the minimum hourly rate increases to £9.50 in April. Everyone working in health should be on at least the real living wage.

“The Chancellor and the Prime Minister must do far better and come up with enough cash for a proper wage rise that stems the staffing flight and ensures safe, quality care for patients.”

GMB national officer Rachel Harrison said: “A maximum 3% increase for exhausted NHS workers would fall far short of what they deserve.  With spiralling inflation and hikes to National Insurance contributions, this derisory proposal means NHS workers are staring at yet another real terms loss.

“GMB has warned the government – and the Pay Review Body – that staff are already leaving the NHS. This will be the final push that many others need. The government’s own evidence says early indicators show leaver rates and vacancy levels in the NHS are returning to pre-pandemic levels.

“Ministers warn of stark trade-offs between NHS pay and NHS services – but patient care is on the line if the health service can’t recruit and retain the workers it needs. The government must prioritise pay, recruitment and retention. GMB calls on the Pay Review Body to do the right thing and recommend a pay award that NHS workers deserve.”

CSP CEO Karen Middleton said: “The government’s position is completely out of touch with what is happening to the cost of living for NHS staff. If this were to be the PRB’s recommendation, it would represent a real-terms pay cut of three to four per cent, based on government’s own inflation projections; this would cause further stress, financial hardship and a feeling of not being valued.

“NHS staff have just been through the hardest two years of their working lives and are fundamental to the recently announced Covid-19 Recovery Plan. A real terms pay cut will do nothing but deepen the serious staffing crisis already facing the NHS.

“Alongside fellow health unions, the CSP will continue to make a strong case to the PRB for an above inflation pay rise for our members.”

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