The NHS is not out of the woods yet

The government has shifted on NHS pay, but there could still be a sting in the tail

Commenting on the announcement in the Budget today (Wednesday) that there is to be extra money to see the NHS through the winter, and to fund an as yet unspecified wage rise for health employees, UNISON head of health Sara Gorton said:

“The government may have shifted its position on NHS pay, but health staff are many months away from any extra money in their pay packets. And a long way off a firm commitment to the level of pay rise they all need and have earned.

“But the NHS doesn’t exist in isolation, and rather than pick out one group of workers today, the government should be championing a decent pay rise for all public service employees, wherever they work.

“And although every part of the NHS will be relieved they won’t be expected to fund any pay rise from existing budgets, they’re not out of the woods yet, and there could still be a real sting in the tail.

“Health unions are willing to explore all options to try to make pay better. But if the health secretary thinks negotiations will be a way of getting staff to pay for their own wage rise by giving up other things that simply won’t wash.

“Trying to correct the impact of six long years of pay restraint in one single pay round will be a huge challenge without significant investment.

“Extra cash to see the NHS through what could turn out to be a long, cold winter will be welcomed in hospitals across the country. But it’s not enough for a health service struggling to care for patients, while all the time more and more people are calling upon its services.”