NHS pay process needs fundamental reset, says UNISON

A more relevant, modern approach to setting pay in the NHS is long overdue.

Commenting on the health secretary’s announcement today (Tuesday) that there’s to be a re-assessment of the NHS pay review body process*, UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said:

“Without fundamental change, the government risks sleepwalking into a disastrous repeat of the shambolic way ministers handled the two most recent pay rounds.

“The pay review body belongs to a different time. It exists in a vacuum, and that no longer works. A more relevant, modern approach to setting pay in the NHS is long overdue.

“Pay and staffing issues must be considered together. Wages are the critical lever governments should pull to keep hold of enough experienced staff to deliver quality patient care, prevent staff burnout and attract new recruits.

“Pay should not be considered in isolation. The review body process has not kept up with devolution either. It’s been unable to prevent NHS staff in Northern Ireland being left behind in the last two pay rounds.

“Thousands of NHS workers had to go on strike this year, losing wages they could ill afford because the pay-setting process isn’t fit for purpose.

“Had ministers listened to unions, months of unnecessary disruption to the NHS could have been avoided.

“For too long the government insisted the NHS pay review body was the only show in town.

“Yet when ministers finally agreed to pay talks involving all the unions, intensive efforts produced results in days.

“By contrast, the pay review body is too rigid, allows the government to call all the shots and is incapable of delivering wage rises to NHS staff each April.

“It’s time to hit reset, ditch the review body and agree to annual pay talks. That’s the best solution for the NHS, its staff and patients.”

Notes to editors:
 *Today health secretary Steve Barclay has announced that work is to start on securing the non-pay elements of the NHS Agenda for Change deal agreed last month. These include enhanced career progression, safer staffing levels, reducing agency spend and improving NHS workforce welfare and morale. This also includes an evaluation of the NHS pay review body process. NHS employers and unions are being asked for their views on the timing of, and appointments to, the review body. Increasing the contribution made by the NHS staff council (representing NHS employers and unions) to the pay-setting process and reducing the duplication of data submitted are also part of the review.
– Today is the first day of UNISON’s annual conference, which this year is in Liverpool. The event runs until Friday. Christina’s speech to the conference is on Wednesday at noon. Further details about the four-day event can be found here.
– 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.

Media contacts:
Liz Chinchen M: 07778 158175 E: press@unison.co.uk
Anthony Barnes M: 07834 864794 E: a.barnes@unison.co.uk