NHS workers considering strike action as Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt denies half his workforce a 1% pay rise

 

Health Reporter

NHS workers’ pay should be linked to performance, not time in the job, Jeremy Hunt has said, as he announced that more than half the workforce will be denied a widely anticipated one per cent pay rise.

Unions said they were consulting their members over strike action and warned that performance-related pay could lead to a “production line” approach on hospital wards.

As more than 600,000 health workers found out they would be denied a below-inflation one per cent pay rise this year, the Health Secretary said that the current NHS payment model, which sees most nurses and other employees’ pay increase according to their level of experience, was “mad” and only benefited higher-paid staff.

Public sector workers, including the armed forces, prison officers and judges, will all receive a one per cent pay rise, as will NHS workers who do not already receive incremental pay increases linked to their experience level. However, the Government rejected advice from the NHS Pay Review Body (NHS PRB) that the salary boost should apply across the board, claiming it was “unaffordable”.

Unions said that the NHS was being singled out and accused the Government of a “direct attack” on healthcare staff. Unite is consulting its 100,000 health service members on industrial action, while the GMB, which has 450,000 health members, also said a strike was now more likely.

Mr Hunt told the BBC that he wanted to see major reform of the way NHS employers set their salaries, saying “it shouldn’t be about time served, it should be how well you look after patients.”

But Rehana Azam, national officer for the GMB Union, told The Independent that performance-related pay would take the NHS into “dangerous territory”, and accused the Health Secretary of implying that healthcare workers were not working hard enough.

“It’s not a fair way of rewarding staff in the NHS,” she said. “It’s like a production line mentality – your pay will depend on your output at the end of the day. But how do you judge how the care you’ve offered a patient should be compensated? If that patient lives on for the next few years? Did that care on that morning enable that? How do you measure it?

“NHS workers will be leaving their workplaces thinking: ‘why are we being singled out?’”

The Department of Health’s claim that incremental progression represented a two per cent increase in salary costs each year was challenged by the independent NHS Pay Review Body, which had said its net cost was in fact 0.6 per cent and may well be lower this year as more staff reach the top of their pay band.

The NHS PRB had also warned that patient care might suffer “through declining staff morale and engagement” if the one per cent pay rise, which was widely anticipated in Government statements up till now, was denied. 

Mr Hunt said that the pay rise was “unaffordable”, adding that 6,000 nursing jobs would “probably” have had to be cut if it had gone ahead. The Government has attached great importance to improving staffing levels in the NHS, in an attempt to prevent any repeats of the Mid Staffordshire hospital scandal, where low nurse cover was cited as a reason for major care failings. However, many NHS hospital trusts now say they are struggling to afford government demands to increase staffing. 

But John Appleby, chief economist at the influential King’s Fund think tank, told The Independent that holding down staff pay risked affecting morale, which could have the effect of a harming patient care regardless of staffing levels. He added that it was becoming “increasingly clear” that the next government would have to find extra funding for the NHS to avoid such dilemmas.

“The alternative is to accept significant cuts to services that will harm patient care,” he said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
musicOfficial chart could be moved to accommodate Friday international release day
Sport
Wes Brown is sent-off
football
News
i100
Sport
Italy celebrate scoring their second try
six nations
Sport
Glenn Murray celebrates scoring against West Ham
footballWest Ham 1 Crystal Palace 3
Arts and Entertainment
Drake continues to tease ahead of the release of his new album
music
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?