What's going on with NHS staff pay?

NHS staff deserve fair pay

The NHS is facing difficult challenges – every day NHS staff are responding to these challenges, and providing the very best of care and support to patients and their families

Healthcare staff have now sustained six years of pay restraint at great cost to their living standards, and causing great damage to their morale.

Pay restraint has resulted in the equivalent annual pay cuts of £2,288 for a cleaner, £2,818 for a ward administrator, £4,846 for a nurse and £6,134 for a midwife.

The government has a choice.

It can choose to restore the independence of the well-regarded Pay Review Body system to make the pay recommendations it believes are needed to maintain recruitment and retention at the levels the service needs.

Or it can allow the current, unsustainable staffing situation to spiral out of control.

Take action by writing to your MP today.

UNISON is serious about fair pay for NHS staff

Our pay campaign for the coming year includes:

  • continuing to lead the fight for a fairer deal for all NHS staff;
  • seeking rapid progress in talks to renew the Agenda for Change pay structure;
  • campaigning against low pay and for the living wage to be applied across the UK;
  • remaining vigilant against the threat to unsocial hours payments.

Latest

People protest for NHS pay

Health secretary urged to lift NHS pay cap

UNISON writes to Jeremy Hunt to put case for ending the pay cap

Health service workers resort to loans and food banks after years of cash cuts, UNISON survey finds

Thursday 27 October 2016 Hard-pressed health service staff are turning to high-rate loans, pawning their belongings and visiting food banks as they struggle just to make ends meet, according to research by UNISON. Financial hardship has led to almost half (49%) of those who took part in a major survey to seek financial help from […]

cash

Evidence submitted to NHS pay review body

UNISON puts the case for fair pay for the 2017/18 pay round

NHS lanyard

NHS needs £280m or the government will be breaking minimum wage laws

The government needs to inject £280m into the NHS by the end of the decade, or ministers will breach minimum wage laws, unions warn

‘The fight for our lowest-paid members will underpin all we do’

UNISON health conference debate sees passionate commitment to campaign to defend Agenda for Change and improve it

The issue

Pay in the NHS is falling behind

Pay in the NHS is now worth between 12% and 18% less than in 2010 because of government pay freezes and below inflation rises.

Meanwhile, private sector pay rises are up to three times higher than for the public sector, leaving the NHS falling further and further behind.

Low pay is still a problem in the NHS

Last year’s pay settlements went some way to helping the lowest paid, but we still have well over 100,000 staff in the NHS earning less than the current Living Wage.

UNISON is working for a better deal  

We have asked the Pay Review Body to:

  • recommend a catch-up award for NHS staff to start to address what they have lost;
  • resist the Treasury’s call for ‘targeting’ of pay rises and make a fair and equitable award for all staff;
  • recommend that from 2016 the NHS incorporates the real living wage as a minimum consistently across all four UK countries;
  • end poverty pay in the NHS and help protect NHS staff from cuts to their tax credits by creating a ‘roadmap’ for reaching a £10 an hour minimum pay rate;
  • to apply an award of at least £1 an hour for all staff;
  • recommend a proper pay framework for apprentices in the NHS to protect them from pay exploitation.

The impact of falling pay and staffing levels in the NHS 

UNISON’s survey of over 10,500 members in the NHS – Undervalued, overwhelmed – painted a worrying picture for staff, for patients and for the NHS:

  • 80% of members have considered leaving their job in the last year – 65% have done so seriously;
  • Three quarters of members said falling pay had damaged their morale at work;
  • Two thirds said that recruitment and retention difficulties are a significant problem in their workplace, with half saying it had got worse in the past 12 months;
  • Nearly two-thirds said that during the last year there had been frequent staff shortages where they work.

Hear from some UNISON members 

“This time next year I won’t be able to afford to stay in this job”

Secretary, Band 4 – North West

“I care about the NHS, however it does not care about me”

Admin & clerical worker, Band 4 – Greater London

“Healthcare Professionals, like any other individual, have bills and responsibilities that they must meet. In order to receive an acceptable wage, I must always work on a weekend, and work 7 days per week.”

Social care worker, Band 2 – Northern Ireland

“At the age of 40 I am living with [my] parents because I can’t afford private rent.”

Nurse, Band 6 – Greater London

Letter to Jeremy Hunt from UNISON

UNISON head of health, Christina McAnea has written to Jeremy Hunt:

Dear Secretary of State,

Pay restraint in the NHS – Agenda for Change Staff

I write regarding current pay arrangements for NHS staff on Agenda for Change terms and conditions.

The independent NHS Pay Review Body process has been fettered in recent years. It is disappointing that the pay cap policy of the previous Government has continued and that the NHS PRB is not free to respond to inflationary or market pressures on pay.

It is clear to everyone that the NHS faces difficult challenges, including financial ones. I know you recognise that NHS staff are responding to these challenges, providing the very best of care and support to patients and their families.

Whilst supporting the NHS to meet these challenges, healthcare staff have now sustained six years of pay restraint at great cost to their living standards, and causing great damage to their morale. Pay restraint has resulted in the equivalent annual pay cuts of £2,288 for a cleaner, £2,818 for a Ward Administrator, £4,846 for a Nurse and £6,134 for a Midwife.

The pressures in the service are unprecedented and for staff this means going above and beyond, every hour of every day.

At this difficult time we cannot afford to lose one more member of staff from the NHS. Yet thousands feel forced to leave in search of more manageable work for better
pay. Health Education England figures show that the number of staff leaving the NHS reached 16% last year – a marked increase since 2011.

A decent pay rise now would be a much-needed boost, helping to retain dedicated, experienced staff. It would also help attract the new recruits we so desperately need to fill chronic staffing shortages – shortages set to get worse as a result of Brexit and the removal of the student bursary. A decent pay rise would show NHS staff that their 100% effort is valued at more than 1% and would make it easier to reduce the costly and wasteful spending on agency staff which continues to drain money from the system.

The Government has a choice. You can choose to restore the independence of the well-regarded Pay Review Body system to make the pay recommendations it believes are needed to maintain recruitment and retention at the levels the service needs. Or you can allow the current, unsustainable staffing situation to spiral out of control.

Choosing to perpetuate pay restraint may seem like a short-term saving but it is costing the NHS dearly. I ask you to consider the long-term implications of the current approach and urge you to change tactics.

Yours sincerely

Christina McAnea
National Secretary, Healthcare

Take action

Ask your MP to support healthcare and the future of the National Health Service.

Facebook a message to your MP

Find my MP on Facebook

Here are some suggested talking points you can use to comment on your MP’s Facebook page.

Hi. For the last 5 years NHS pay has either been frozen or capped at 1%. My cost of living has gone up lots more than that over that time.

I’m proud of what I do and I’m proud of the team around me. But I am constantly overworked That’s not good for me and it’s not good for patients and their families either.

We keep being asked to do more, for less, and I just want the Government to recognise that it is time for a fair pay rise.

Could you please write to Jeremy Hunt and ask him if he can make the NHS Pay Review Body independent again by lifting the pay cap, so that me and my colleagues can have our pay considered fairly?

Email your MP

Use our online tool

Email my MP