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Union members call for ballot on strike action over NHS pay deal

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Thousands of healthcare professionals are calling for a ballot on strike action over the proposed NHS pay deal.

Yesterday NHS staff in England were offered a 6.5% pay deal which spanned over three years but with the OBR forecasting that RPI inflation is set to increase by 9.6% over the next three years – the deal falls short of a genuine pay rise and will still see the majority of healthcare staff worse off than they are today.

The deal is fully funded by the Treasury. £4.2 billion of extra money will be given to the NHS in England, but unions have warned the government may withdraw this funding if the deal is not accepted – a move that many have calling scaremongering.

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Similar deals are expected to be announced in Scotland and Wales.

The proposal ensures newly qualified healthcare professionals would be rewarded quickly with faster incremental progression but the proposed pay deal would see long-serving, experienced, staff rewarded the least – a tactic many claim is designed to divide the workforce.

Despite rumours, annual leave allowances and some unsociable hours payments are untouched but there are several issues that have been identified with the deal.

  • Increments not automatic nor based on experience but the fulfilment of unspecified criteria.
  • Unsociable hours for bands 1, 2 and 3 have been cut and changes suggested to ambulance trusts.
  • Long-serving and dedicated staff will see smaller rises than their more junior counterparts.
  • Support staff will see their wages capped after just two years in post.
  • The 6.5% rise is below the OBRs forecasted 9.6% rate of inflation.

Healthcare activists have taken to social media to calls for members to reject the deal and call on unions to instead ballot their members on the potential industrial action as the deal fails to make up for the 14% real-terms pay cut staff have experienced over the past 7 years.

Fourteen health care unions, including the Royal College of Nursing, Unison and the Royal College of Midwives have been negotiating the deal with NHS Employers since November 2017.

Presently, only the GMB is recommending its members reject the pay deal.

Kevin Brandstatter, GMB National Officer, said: “Jeremy Hunt’s promise of jam tomorrow is simply not good enough for NHS workers who, during the past eight years, have faced the biggest pay pinch in living memory.

“Long-serving, dedicated health service workers have had thousands of pounds swiped from their pay packets since 2010 by the Government’s cruel and unnecessary pay cap.

“After all that suffering is a below inflation pay rise the best they can offer?

“If it is, GMB will have to recommend that our members in NHS and Ambulance Trusts reject it.

“Since 2010, paramedics have lost an average of over £14,000, midwives £18,000 and staff nurse £14,500.

“This deal won’t allow them to claw any of that cash back – in fact, for longer serving, most loyal NHS workers the 6.5% increase over three years actually means a real terms pay cut.

“This deal doesn’t put things right and continues to punish those who have endured the pinch on pay.

“It does nothing to address the recruitment and retention crisis that is driving workers from our NHS and has left 100,000 positions unfilled.

“And it leaves the door being opened to new employees in the NHS being employed on worse terms and conditions than existing health service workers through third party shell companies is deeply troubling.”

You can see how the proposals would affect you here.

Workforce

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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