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NHS staff offered 6.5% pay rise – but it is still a pay cut

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NHS Staff are to set receive a 6.5 percent pay rise over three years but it is still below the rate of inflation.

Over a million NHS staff are set to receive pay increases of 6.5% over three years from April 2017, but this still remains as a pay cut when offset by the current rate of inflations.

The agreement that was reached with NHS Employers, the body that negotiates on behalf of the government, applies to medical staff including nurses, midwives, healthcare assistants and paramedics, but not doctors, dentists and some senior NHS managers.

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The deal is fully funded by the Treasury. £4.2 billion of extra money will be given to the NHS in England, so there will be no pressure on employers to fund the deal from existing resources.

Healthcare activists are calling for unions members to reject the deal when balloted.

Some other key facts about the offer;

  • Overlaps between the bands have been removed.
  • The number of pay points in each band has been reduced.
  • Annual leave allowances unchanged.
  • Unsociable hours will remain unchanged.

Fourteen health unions that represent one million NHS staff, including The Royal College of Nursing and Unison, have been negotiating the deal since November when the chancellor announced funding a multi-year pay deal and ‘modernisation’ of the agenda for change pay structure.

Image: © shaunwilkinson

A spokesperson from NursingNotes said; “While any pay rise is good news, the increase still falls short of the 14% real-terms pay cut NHS staff have experienced in the past 8 years. It is disappointing that wages of hard-working NHS staff still fails to keep up with rises in the cost of living”. 

Janet Davies, RCN Chief Executive and General Secretary, said: “The progress achieved here is a credit to our members who fought hard to scrap the brutally unfair pay cap.

“Today’s deal is neither a magic wand nor a blank cheque but commits significant Government cash to overlooked NHS staff without making any unpalatable demands in return. For that reason, we will be asking members to vote in favour.

“There are 40,000 unfilled nurse jobs in England alone and this should begin to make the profession attractive again.

“The next three years could be turbulent and this deal gives NHS workers some much-needed stability”.

Sara Gorton, UNISON head of health, said: “Seven years of pay freezes and wage increases well below the cost of living have meant significant financial hardship for health staff and their families. It’s also created headaches for employers as they struggled to attract new recruits and hold onto experienced staff.

“The agreement means an end at last to the government’s self-defeating and unfair one per cent pay cap. It won’t solve every problem in the NHS, but would go a long way towards making dedicated health staff feel more valued, lift flagging morale, and help turn the tide on employers’ staffing problems.

“If health workers accept the offer, everyone’s wages will go further, and the lowest paid would get a significant income boost. Starting salaries for nurses, midwives and other health professionals would also become more attractive to people considering a career in the NHS.”

You can use the NHS Pay Calculator to work out how the changes will affect you. 

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Nursing vacancies hit record high leaving patient care at risk

It can be “dangerous” when there aren’t enough nurses to provide care.

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Patient Falls Risk with IV

There are now a record 43,671 empty nursing posts in the NHS in England alone.

NHS figures show that there are now a record 43,671 empty nursing posts in the NHS in England alone, according to the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).

The College says a global shortage of nurses alongside the removal of the nursing bursary has compounded this figure which now sees 12% of posts through the NHS in England without a full-time Registered Nurse.

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Figures from the University and College Admissions Service (UCAS) show a 29% overall decline in applications to undergraduate courses since 2015, when the bursary was cut by the Government.

In a report released today titled ‘Standing up for patient and public safety’, the Royal College of Nursing outlines the evidence of the need for a new law that allocates specific legal responsibilities for workforce planning and supply.

A new law is needed.

The report states that in order to address the record number of vacancies, and the gap between the numbers of health and care staff needed to deliver patient care vs. how many are in the system.

Figures included in the report reveal that the number of nursing staff has consistently failed to keep up with the dramatic rise in demand for services and the number of emergency admissions.

The report finally makes a further call for legal clarity on the roles, responsibilities, as well as accountabilities, for workforce planning and supply.

In September, after pressure from RCN members, NHS England and NHS Improvement asked the Government for clarity over who is accountable for the nursing workforce.

‘Nurses are working harder than ever’.

Dame Donna Kinnair, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing said: “Nurses are working harder than ever to deliver safe patient care but are being held back by a system that is legally lacking teeth. Despite the public, patients and nurses all agreeing that clarity is needed on responsibilities for delivering enough nurses, we have yet to see any government pledge anything of the like, and as a result are staring down the barrel at a record 43k empty nursing posts.

“We know how dangerous it can be when there aren’t enough nurses to provide care, but at present, almost all accountability rests with the frontline nurse working on the understaffed ward, rather than those responsible for the system they work in.

“We believe the time has come for change and that patient care was future-proofed by law, and that from the government down, decision makers are held to account.

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NHS calls for clarity on who is accountable for the nursing workforce

Figures suggest there are around 40,000 unfilled nursing vacancies throughout the NHS in England.

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Working nurses in the CCU

Healthcare leaders are calling for legislation to be included in the forthcoming Queen’s Speech.

NHS England and NHS Improvement have called on the Government to clarify who is accountable for the nursing workforce and the chronic problems it’s currently facing.

Following ongoing pressure from nursing unions, the two organisations met today and recommend that the government should “revisit with partners whether national responsibilities and duties in relation to workforce functions are sufficiently clear.”

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With around 40,000 unfilled nursing vacancies in the NHS in England and thousands more throughout social care, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) believes the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care should be legally accountable for the workforce.

Along with other health care leaders, Dame Donna Kinnair, Chief Executive & General Secretary of the RCN, written to the Government calling for the legislation proposed by NHS England and NHS Improvement to be included in the forthcoming Queen’s Speech.

Staff shortages have reached ‘alarming levels’.

Responding to the news, Dame Donna Kinnair said: “We are pleased that NHS England and NHS Improvement has recognised the concerns of RCN members and the public and has stated that the issue of accountability for workforce planning and supply remains an area that needs be resolved.”

“In the week after we have launched a major public facing campaign calling for investment in the nursing workforce as well as for accountability to be clarified in the law, yet again, the case is made for this to be taken seriously.

“We are clear that government is well placed to determine how accountability can be clarified in law.

Adding; “Staff shortages have reached alarming levels with at least 40,000 vacant registered nurse posts in the NHS in England alone with thousands more vacancies in public health and social care.

“We now hope government will listen to this message, as well as the voices of the thousands of members that responded to the NHS England engagement process, and bring forward this legislation, taking the opportunity to include accountability in government and throughout the health and care system, for workforce planning and supply.”

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