The government has been asked to “show its support for NHS professionals”.
The Health Secretary has confirmed that there will be no pay rise for NHS workers until at least May 2021.
A letter sent by Matt Hancock to the NHS Pay Review Body (NHSPRB) asks the independent body to provide a recommendation on NHS pay for “early May 2021” but provides some stark warning about affordability.
The news comes despite thirteen healthcare unions calling on the Prime Minister and Chancellor calling to “show its support for NHS professionals” by entering “immediate NHS pay discussions”.
The letter highlights concerns over the economy and the UK’s poor fiscal position before going on to remind the NHSPRB that the Government expects “recommendations to take account of the extremely challenging fiscal and economic context, and consider the affordability of pay awards.”
Mr Hancock also writes that NHS pay is already “7% ahead of the private sector” and suggests that healthcare workers have been “shielded from the pandemic’s economic effects”
Only a few days ago NursingNotes revealed that stressed, overworked nurses are missing meals to pay bills.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We continue to listen to our valued staff and trade unions so everyone is rewarded fairly and, when we receive them, we will consider the recommendations of the independent NHS Pay Review Body and Doctor and Dentist’s Review Body which will take into account the challenging economic context.”
Intent on dragging it out.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has criticised Mr Hancock’s letter to the pay review body accusing him of “dragging it out even longer” when NHS staff are busy “working through a pandemic”.
Responding to the news, RCN Chief Executive & General Secretary Dame Donna Kinnair said: “Many nursing staff are worse off now than they were 10 years ago. They need an early and significant pay rise that reflects the true skills and value of the profession.
“The government seems intent on dragging it out even longer. Nursing staff should not have to wait for a pay rise. This is no way to treat NHS staff still working through a pandemic.
“At a time when many experienced nurses are burnt out, exhausted and considering leaving the career they love, the link between unfair pay, staffing levels and patient safety is stark. A pay increase is vital so that existing staff stay in post and the health service is able to begin to fill the tens of thousands of nursing vacancies.
“Those working in social care and the community deserve a pay boost as much as their NHS colleagues. Nursing staff across the board will oppose plans to freeze the pay of equally skilled professionals who don’t work for the NHS.
“Funding our health and care service is a political choice. We want the government to recognise the skill, experience and responsibility demonstrated every day by nursing staff. A fair pay rise is vital not just for nursing and other NHS staff, but for patients and the health service as a whole.”