NHS staff are to receive a pay rise of one per cent, the Government has confirmed – however this amounts to a pay cut in real terms, as inflation is at 2.3 per cent.
The rise, which unions have called "derisory", will apply from 1 April for all health workers including doctors, dentists, nurses and midwives as well as porters and cleaning staff.
A report on NHS pay delivered to Parliament today said the change was being made in the context of "significant affordability pressures facing the NHS across the UK".
"Increasing demand for healthcare [is] being accommodated within budgets that are broadly flat in real terms," it said.
Midwives have seen their pay drop in value by over £6,000 since 2010 due to below-inflation increases, according to the Royal College of Midwives, who said low pay was contributing to a midwife shortage.
And the Royal College of Nurses, calling the decision a "bitter blow" to nursing staff, said it would also deter people from becoming nurses at a time when record numbers were quitting, especially nurses from the EU.
“This deal amounts to less than five pounds a week for most midwives, nurses, cleaners, paramedics, radiographers and other healthcare staff," said Christina McAnea, NHS spokesperson for Unison.
“It's a derisory amount in the face of soaring fuel bills, rising food prices and increasing transport costs."
Everyone the Government blames for the NHS crisis – except themselves
Everyone the Government blames for the NHS crisis – except themselves
1/6 The elderly
“We acknowledge that there are pressures on the health service, there are always extra pressures on the NHS in the winter, but we have the added pressures of the ageing population and the growing complex needs of the population,” Theresa May has said. Waits of over 12 hours in A&E among elderly people have more than doubled in two years, according to figures from NHS Digital.
2/6 Patients going to A&E instead of seeing their GPs
Jeremy Hunt has called for a “honest discussion with the public about the purpose of A&E departments”, saying that around a third of A&E patients were in hospital unnecessarily. Mr Hunt told Radio 4’s Today programme the NHS now had more doctors, nurses and funding than ever, but explained what he called “very serious problems at some hospitals” by suggesting pressures were increasing in part because people are going to A&Es when they should not. He urged patients to visit their GP for non-emergency illnesses, outlined plans to release time for family doctors to support urgent care work, and said the NHS will soon be able to deliver seven-day access to a GP from 8am to 8pm. But doctors struggling amid a GP recruitment crisis said Mr Hunt’s plans were unrealistic and demanded the Government commit to investing in all areas of the overstretched health service.
3/6 Simon Stevens, head of NHS England
Reports that “key members” of Ms May’s team used internal meetings to accuse Simon Stevens, head of NHS England, of being unenthusiastic and unresponsive have been rejected by Downing Street. Mr Stevens had allegedly rejected claims made by Ms May that the NHS had been given more funding than required.
4/6 Previous health policy, not funding
In an interview with Sky News’s Sophy Ridge, Ms May acknowledged the NHS faced pressures but said it was a problem that had been “ducked by government over the years”. She refuted the claim that hospitals were tackling a “humanitarian crisis” and said health funding was at record levels. “We asked the NHS a while back to set out what it needed over the next five years in terms of its plan for the future and the funding that it would need,” said the Prime Minister. “They did that, we gave them that funding, in fact we gave them more funding than they required… Funding is now at record levels for the NHS, more money has been going in.” But doctors accused Ms May of being “in denial” about how the lack of additional funding provided for health and social care were behind a spiralling crisis in NHS hospitals.
5/6 Target to treat all A&E patients within four hours
Mr Hunt was accused of watering down the flagship target to treat all A&E patients within four hours. The Health Secretary told MPs the promise – introduced by Tony Blair’s government in 2000 – should only be for “those who actually need it”. Amid jeers in the Commons, Mr Hunt said only four other countries pledged to treat all patients within a similar timeframe and all had “less stringent” rules. But Ms May has now said the Government will stand by the four-hour target for A&E, which says 95 per cent of patients must be dealt with within that time frame.
6/6 No one
Mr Hunt was accused of “hiding” from the public eye following news of the Red Cross’s comments and didn’t make an official statement for two days. He was also filmed refusing to answer questions from journalists who pursued him down the street yesterday to ask whether he planned to scrap the four-hour A&E waiting time target. Sky News reporter Beth Rigby pressed the Health Secretary on his position on the matter, saying “the public will want to know, Mr Hunt”. “Sorry Beth, I’ve answered questions about this already,” replied Mr Hunt. “But you didn’t answer questions on this. You said it was over-interpreted in the House of Commons and you didn’t want to water it down. Is that what you’re saying?” said Ms Rigby. “It’s very difficult, because how are we going to explain to the public what your intention is, when you change your position and then won’t answer the question, Mr Hunt”. But the Health Secretary maintained his silence until he reached his car and got in.
The Government said it had accepted recommendations from Pay Review Bodies (PRB) for increases in the coming year.
But Rehana Azam, of the GMB union, called the decision "miserly and cruel".
“Public sector workers desperately need a real pay rise, not the miserly and cruel decision being imposed on them by the Government," she said.
“Dedicated professionals are hurting and the quality of services is deteriorating for everyone else.
“Theresa May talks about helping those who are 'just about managing', but it's clear that she doesn't include over five million public sector workers.
“Imposing a 1 per cent settlement is an insult to our selfless NHS staff and other public sector workers - who keep us safe day in, day out.”
Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison, added that "endless pay freezes and wage caps" have left NHS staff feeling "taken for granted".
Jon Skewes, of the Royal College of Midwives, said: “It is extremely disappointing that the Government is continuing with its disastrous policy of pay restraint for a seventh year.
"While we welcome that both the Scottish and Welsh Governments will give a slightly higher award to lower paid staff, we want to see an inflationary increase given to all staff.
“As a result of below-inflation increases for the past seven years, midwives have seen their pay drop in value by over £6,000 since 2010. It is unsustainable for this to continue."
Janet Davies, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the RCN, said: “This deals a bitter blow to nursing staff across England. The nursing profession is rightly held in high regard but kind words don’t pay the bills.
“With this announcement, the Government will deter new people from joining the nursing profession at the very moment it is failing to retain staff and European colleagues in particular head for the door.
“It amounts to another real-terms cut to pay packets – the Government is still refusing to keep nursing wages in line with inflation. The Government has already cut nursing pay by 14 per cent in real-terms – leaving too many struggling and turning to foodbanks and hardship grants.
“Many nurses rely on working extra hours for the NHS as agency staff but, from next week, they will be forced to work through a ‘bank’ and accept lower rates of pay than they get in their normal NHS job.
"We do not support this agency ban – nurses should not work for less than they are worth and they have a right to work in whatever way is best for them."Reuse content