The government must restore the NHS Pay Review Body’s independence, says UNISON

UNISON is today (Thursday) calling on the government to lift the restrictions and give the NHS Pay Review Body (PRB) an open remit so it can be truly independent after ‘shameful’ vote to keep the pay cap.

Government MPs missed the opportunity to award a long overdue pay rise to public sector workers including paramedics, nurses, midwives, catering and cleaning staff by voting against an opposition amendment to lift the public sector pay cap. But with the next round of pay negotiations coming up, UNISON is calling on the government to restore the PRB’s independence and clarify its remit.

In a letter to the NHS PRB last summer, the Treasury asking that the pay awards cost no more than one per cent of the total pay bill every year until 2020. UNISON believes this restriction jeopardises the independence of the PRB and limits the scope for a fair pay rise for health workers.

UNISON head of health Sara Gorton said: “The government stranglehold on NHS pay has to stop. For too long ministers have got away with controlling the Pay Review Body.

“The vote in the Commons was shameful and another slap in the face of hundreds of thousands of health workers who are furious that they have been let down yet again by this government.

“The PRB clearly stated that the pay cap was not sustainable and the NHS was at risk of a staffing crisis. If ministers were serious about recruiting and retaining staff they would start by ensuring they are paid fairly.

“By imposing a limit, ministers have denied paramedics, nurses, therapists, catering, cleaning and admin staff the pay rise they deserve.

“Only a truly independent PRB with an open remit can recommend an evidence-based pay award.

“The government must commit to provide the funding needed to implement the pay awards as recommended by the PRB.”

Notes to editors
The letter from the Treasury was issued on 13 June 2016 stated the department would fund public sector workforces for pay awards of an average of one per cent a year, up to 2019/20.

A subsequent letter was sent from Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt on 22 August 2016 confirming the restrictions on the PRB.

Media contacts:
Alan Weaver T:  0207 121 5555 M: 07939 143310 E: a.weaver@unison.co.uk
Joe Lewis T: 0207 121 5255 M: 07970 863 411 E: j.lewis5@unison.co.uk
Fatima Ayad T:0207 121 5255 M: 07508 080383 E: f.ayad@unison.co.uk