Unfreezing NHS pay

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2012 Health Care Service Group Conference
24 November 2011
Carried as Amended

Our members in the NHS are about to enter the second year of a pay freeze imposed as a result of the Comprehensive Spending Review presented by the Chancellor in October 2010. This means that for the second year running, the NHS Pay Review Body was given a restricted remit by the Secretary of State for Health.

Currently, there is an increasing gap between NHS wages and inflation which will be further exacerbated through implementation of the planned pay freeze for staff earning over £21,000 – The best projections available suggest that inflation will have cut out between 6% and 10% from the value of staff wages by the end of the two-year pay freeze. While the £250 increase for staff earning £21,000 or less has made a small if any contribution to cushioning the impact on low paid staff, inflation for the low-paid runs higher, meaning that the lowest paid have seen the biggest rise in the cost of living

Over the same period, private sector pay settlements have tripled in value in the year to June 2011.

Unsurprisingly, against this background, clear signs are emerging that the desire of staff to stay within the NHS is weakening and a strengthening labour market would allow many to act on their discontent, feeding through to rising leaving rates. Faced with rising demands that have to be met with frozen or reduced resources, the quality of working life is declining just as real pay is falling. Arresting this cycle of decline will be a key issue for the NHS in seeking to maintain the quality of care it provides to patients.

With indications that the Westminster Government are keen to encourage organisations to move away from national pay rates for NHS staff, we call on the Health Service Group to:

1)Resist moves to re-introduce regional or local pay bargaining within the NHS;

2)Gather and present evidence through the Pay Review Body process of the continued impact of the 2011 and 2012 Government pay freeze on members, particularly those on the lowest pay bands, and make the case for a 2013 pay award which redresses the balance;

3)Working with other NHS Trade Unions where possible, gather and publicise evidence of the link between pay, morale, and patient care in the NHS;

4)Continue to campaign against cuts to the value of NHS pay;

5)Use relevant political routes to lobby against any continued Government freeze of NHS pay.