Chancellor Philip Hammond should use the autumn statement to signal a massive cash injection into the crisis-hit NHS, allowing the independent Pay Review Body to help restore the pay of a hard-pressed workforce.
Unite, which has 100,000 members in the health service, called on Philip Hammond to make good his pledge when he was appointed chancellor in July that he is prepared to ‘reset’ the government’s economic policy in the autumn statement, due on November 23.
“Since 2010, NHS staff have seen their incomes in real terms eroded by more than 15 per cent which has provoked a recruitment and retention crisis across the NHS,” said Unite national officer for health Sarah Carpenter.
“Now is the time for Philip Hammond to honour his pledge to reset economic policy and cast away the austerity shackles so beloved by his predecessor George Osborne.
“A large cash injection into the NHS would allow the independent Pay Review Body (PRB) to consider objectively the evidence and award a decent pay rise to dedicated health professionals, without health secretary Jeremy Hunt malevolently breathing down its neck,” she added.
“It is clear that the one per cent pay cap for NHS staff is completely unrealistic and unsustainable after years of below inflation pay rises and pay freezes.
“The scale of the crisis can’t be underestimated – vacancies for certain grades of pathology staff are running at up to 70 percent, with huge agency costs as a result, and morale for the overworked ambulance staff and health visitors is rock bottom because of the shabby way that ministers have treated them when it comes to pay since 2010.”
Thirteen NHS unions, including Unite, in their annual submission to the PRB said today (September 30) the government will need to inject £280m into the NHS by the end of the decade, or ministers will find themselves in breach of their own minimum wage laws.
In Unite’s annual membership survey earlier this year, over 70 per cent of nurses said that they would not recommend their occupation as a career in the NHS, with 58 per cent considering leaving their posts for a job outside the NHS.
Eighty-six per cent of health visitors said that they had experienced work related stress in the past year and 82 per cent reported morale and motivation being worse or a lot worse.