Government has ‘made a big mistake’ on pay and missed the chance to turn the NHS around

The £1,400 rise “fails on every front”

Commenting on the government’s announcement today (Tuesday) that NHS staff in England are to receive a pay rise of £1,400 this year, UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said:

“Th​e government has made a big mistake. ​This short-sighted decision risks harming the UK’s most cherished institution ​beyond repair.

“​Ministers might have shifted their pay position a little, but nowhere near enough. This award is barely half the lowest level of inflation. The price surge shows no sign of easing and hikes to energy bills will wipe out the rise for almost everyone.

“It’s unlikely the increase will apply to the many staff working in hospitals and ambulances services but employed by private contractors. They need a wage boost too.

“A decent pay rise isn’t a magic cure for every NHS ill. But it would show staff and patients that ministers care enough to start sorting out the workforce crisis at the heart of the health service’s many problems.

“Sadly, this award fails on every front. It doesn’t protect health workers from the growing cost of living crisis, arrest the decline in patient services or cut queues.

“Wages are key to fixing the staffing shortages ​hampering the health service’s post-pandemic recovery. The public understands this. It’s a pity the government doesn’t. The Treasury should fund this pay award fully.

“Ministers seem intent on running down the NHS, showing scant regard for the millions of people languishing on waiting lists for tests and treatment.

“Rather than save the NHS with proper investment in staff and services, those vying to be the next Prime Minister want to keep back the cash for pre-election tax cuts.

“Fed-up staff might well now decide to take the matter into their own hands. If there is to be a dispute in the NHS, ministers will have no one to blame but themselves.”

Notes to editors: 
– All NHS staff on Agenda for Change contracts (NHS terms and conditions) in England will get a consolidated pay rise of £1,400. This package amounts to a 4.75% increase to the NHS pay bill. Staff at the top of band 6 (for example paramedics) will get £1,561 and those in band 7 (for example advanced physiotherapists) will get slightly more.
– Earlier this week, public polling commissioned by the 13 health unions, including UNISON, and carried out by Savanta ComRes was published. It found that 58% of UK adults believe health workers would be justified in taking industrial action if the government pay award in England was below inflation. More details here. The other 12 unions are: British Association of Occupational Therapists, British Dietetic Association, British Orthoptic Society, Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, Royal College of Podiatry, Federation of Clinical Scientists, GMB, Managers in Partnership, Prison Officers Association, Royal College of Midwives, Society of Radiographers and Unite.
– Health workers were due a pay rise on 1 April 2022 after their previous one-year deal expired. This award is for NHS staff in England. Health workers in Wales will now need to see how their ministers plan to interpret the recommendations of the NHS pay review body. In Northern Ireland, staff face more uncertainty as decisions on NHS pay will have to wait until Stormont is fully functioning with an agreed budget. In Scotland, UNISON is balloting its 35,000 health members recommending rejection of the Edinburgh government’s 5% pay offer and a vote for strike action. The consultative ballot closes on 8 August.
– The health unions had called for an above-inflation pay rise in their submission to the NHS pay review body. The government had proposed a 3% increase.
– The press office has several NHS workers available to speak to the media.
– UNISON is the UK’s largest union with more than 1.3 million members providing public services in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in the public, voluntary and private sectors.