Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has confirmed that the NHS pay cap will be scrapped but has not said if pay awards will be in line with inflation.
The public sector pay cap has been in place for seven years, choking the living standards of workers carrying out vital services we all rely on.
The public’s concern, specifically for NHS workers, was recently revealed in a ComRes survey of more than 2,000 people which found that 84 per cent supported scrapping the cap.
Furthermore 83 per cent also agreed that health service staff should get a pay rise in line with the RPI measure of inflation, which now stands at 3.9 per cent and is the pay rise that NHS unions including Unite have called for.
“Whilst we welcome this shift in the government’s position we remain deeply concerned about what this means for the hundreds of thousands of NHS staff who have been denied a fair pay rise since 2010,” said Sarah Carpenter, Unite national officer for health.
“Unite are clear that any pay rise must be fully funded, and not scraped out of NHS budgets that are already dangerously struggling. If the government is really committed to the NHS it’s time for them to put their money where their mouth is. It’s about respect,” she added.
Last month when the pay cap was lifted for police and prison staff, the awards fell far short of inflation leaving organisations to find the cash from their own budgets.
The prospect of the NHS not receiving any extra funding to pay staff more will alarm health service leaders, already warning of a growing funding gap running to many billions. The worry is that hospitals will be forced to cut other services to find the funds.
Emma Randle worked as a specialist drug worker in the NHS for 11 years. When drug and alcohol services were put out to tender lots of trusts lost contracts to non NHS organisations. Emma made the decision to move into research instead.
“When the pay cap came into force in 2010, none of us thought that we would be in this position six years later,” she said.
“What I see now day in and day out is an NHS is on its knees, barely functioning with frustrated clinicians not being able to care for their patients properly, worn out, disillusioned and demoralised. My mum always used to say that actions speak louder than words,” she added.
Next week, on Tuesday October 17, public sector workers from 15 different trade unions will join forces to march to Parliament Square for a rally calling for a better pay deal for all public sector workers.