Health service pay increase pegged at 1 per cent but NHS employers say they can't even afford that

  • @oliver_wright

NHS managers have hit out at plans to give health service staff a one per cent pay rise from next month suggesting the move could harm patient care.

In a provocative statement which will inflame tensions with staff who have seen their pay frozen for the past two years NHS employers’ warned that they could not afford the £500 million cost of the pay rise.

However unions said that one per cent was too little and would leave many nurses, healthcare assistants and lower paid staff “struggling to keep their heads above water”.

In a written statement the Government said it would accept recommendations from the independent pay review body that almost 1.4 million public sector employees, including nurses, doctors and members of the armed forces, would receive a one per cent pay rise from next month.

But NHS Employers, which represents managers across the Health Service, said the price tag of the pay increase would be enough to pay for an extra 15,000 nurses.

They added that it was wrong to say that most NHS staff had had their pay frozen for two years as most had received money through moving up pay bands.

“We gave compelling evidence to the pay review bodies arguing that a pay increase this year wasn't necessary and would add additional cost pressures to NHS trusts in what we know will be an extremely challenging year,” said Dean Royles, chief executive of the NHS Employers.

“This pay increase of one per cent for all NHS staff will add in the region of £500 million to NHS annual expenditure. This is the equivalent of around 15,000 new nurses.

“Employers' biggest priorities are maintaining and improving quality patient care and staff job security, both of which depend on sustainable pay bills.”

But Dr Peter Carter General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing said the rise was not enough.

“urses and health care assistants are really struggling to keep their heads above water financially as their pay levels are failing to keep pace with inflation,” he said.

“The reality of increasing living costs mean we are seeing higher numbers of our members in debt and unable to meet mortgage payments.

“The announcement of a 1 per cent increase for 2013/14 does nothing to restore the 9 per cent gap caused by rising inflation that we have seen open up during the previous two years’ pay freeze.

Unison, which represents 450,000 NHS workers including paramedics, therapists and midwives, said staff will face another year of financial hardship.

The union condemned the second successive 1 per cent annual increase as a “squeeze” on pay, which officials warned would leave many health workers and their families struggling to make ends meet.

CPI inflation is running at 2.7 per cent.