The NHS continues to face financial and service challenges; a different approach is required to deliver a health and social care system that is capable of meeting the scale of the demands.
Trade unions and employers have been reviewing and refreshing their agenda for this change to happen. The NHS trade unions firmly believe that a well-maintained, UK wide pay structure is an essential element of the workforce strategy needed to improve productivity.
Last year the government announced the public sector pay rises will be capped at 1% until 2020, it was later revealed that this was intended to be an average across the workforce and that there was little guarantee that every employee would receive this increase.
NHS nurses, midwives and other healthcare workers are fighting against this cap stating that ‘The cap should be applied to all.’
The staff would also object to a pay award that is below the National Living Wage (NLW) for staff in lower pay bands, the social policy is fully funded by the UK Government. Earnings have also slowly begun to decrease behind the cost of living for several years and will continue to fall due to inflation if the Pay Review Body (PRB) follows by the cap already set.
The government have responded stating that ‘the wage is to target and draw in more staff to reduce the staffing issues across the board, as trainees will be helping the struggle of the strain.’ The proposal is potentially damaging staff’s morale further, due to the funding pot already being restricted.
Since the UK’s vote to leave the EU, this could also end with major implications for the NHS. Freedom of movement and mutual recognition of professional qualifications within the EU means that many health professionals currently working in the UK have come from EU countries.
EU-born staff may choose to leave the UK due to uncertainty, before new rules are put into place on migration restrictions. This could potentially lower the amount of medical staffing working within the NHS and private sectors across the UK.
The unions have called for the pay rise cap to be broken, highlighting that the trusts were struggling to recruit and retain staff, not simply just recruiting new trainees. Also arguing against the demeaning 1%, as they believe it would create little change for staff, who already feel undervalued.
‘No Strategy, No Vision’ they protested as the cap leads to unsustainable results, encouraging everyone to join together for wages to be increased.
NHS staff need to be shown they are valued by the government through better pay as Unison reported nearly two-thirds of respondents felts worse off than they did 12 months ago.
Staff side evidence to the NHS Pay Review Body 2017-18