1,000,000 health work­ers call on Chan­cel­lor to in­crease pay

Western Mail - - NEWS - Mark Smith Health Cor­re­spon­dent mark.smith@waleson­line.co.uk

NHS unions have bro­ken with tra­di­tion by sub­mit­ting a pay claim di­rectly to cen­tral gov­ern­ment on be­half of more than one mil­lion health work­ers across the UK.

In a let­ter to the Chan­cel­lor, 14 health unions have asked Philip Ham­mond to ear­mark funds in the Novem­ber Bud­get for a pay rise in line with in­fla­tion.

The claim also calls for an ad­di­tional £800 to re­store some of the pay lost over the past seven years.

It fol­lows a warn­ing ear­lier this week that nurses across the UK could strike un­less the pub­lic-sec­tor pay cap of 1% is lifted.

The Royal Col­lege of Nurs­ing says staff have suf­fered a 14% pay cut in real terms since 2010 be­cause of the pay ceil­ing.

Thou­sands demon­strated at Par­lia­ment Square last week to call on the gov­ern­ment to “scrap the cap” for all pub­lic-sec­tor work­ers.

But the Res­o­lu­tion Foun­da­tion stated in July that end­ing the public­sec­tor pay cap in 2018-19 would cost £9.7bn a year by 2021-22.

UK min­is­ters are ex­pected to an­nounce that po­lice and prison of­fi­cers will get a pay rise of more than 1%.

Unions rep­re­sent­ing Wales’ doc­tors and nurses say the cap must go for their mem­bers and other public­sec­tor work­ers could fol­low suit.

Uni­son head of health Sara Gor­ton said: “Health work­ers have gone with­out a proper pay rise for far too long. Their wages con­tinue to fall be­hind in­fla­tion as food and fuel bills, hous­ing and trans­port costs rise.

“NHS staff and their fam­i­lies need a pay award that stops the rot and starts to re­store some of the earn­ings that have been missed out on.

“A de­cent pay rise will make it eas­ier for strug­gling hos­pi­tal trusts to at­tract new re­cruits and hold on to ex­pe­ri­enced staff.

“Con­tin­u­ing with the pay cap will fur­ther dam­age ser­vices, and that af­fects us all. The gov­ern­ment must give the NHS the cash it needs so its en­tire work­force gets a de­cent rise, with­out the need for more ser­vices to be cut.

“There must be no se­lec­tive lift­ing of the cap, as with po­lice and prison of­fi­cers a few days ago. All pub­lic ser­vants, no mat­ter where in the coun­try they live or what job they do, de­serve a proper pay rise.”

NHS unions be­lieve the gov­ern­ment has un­der­mined the role of the in­de­pen­dent pay re­view body and se­verely re­stricted its abil­ity to make rec­om­men­da­tions.

Royal Col­lege of Nurs­ing chief ex­ec­u­tive and gen­eral sec­re­tary Janet Davies said: “Nurs­ing staff must be given a pay rise that matches in­fla­tion, with an ad­di­tional con­sol­i­dated lump sum that be­gins to make up for the years of lost pay.

“When the next pay re­view body process be­gins, the gov­ern­ment must al­low it to be truly in­de­pen­dent and able to rec­om­mend a mean­ing­ful in­crease that helps hard-work­ing staff with the cost of liv­ing.

“It must be fully funded and not force the NHS to cut ser­vices or jobs to pay for it. When min­is­ters hold pay down, it drives too many nurses out of the NHS. The RCN will sub­mit fur­ther ev­i­dence on mo­ti­va­tion, morale, re­cruit­ment and re­ten­tion is­sues for nurs­ing staff.”

Royal Col­lege of Mid­wives di­rec­tor for em­ploy­ment re­la­tions and com­mu­ni­ca­tions Jon Skewes said: “This claim rep­re­sents fair com­pen­sa­tion for the rise of cost in liv­ing and goes some way to make up for mid­wives’ pay los­ing over £6,000 in value since 2010. With­out an in­crease to pay, there will be no in­cen­tive for mid­wives to stay in mid­wifery, or for stu­dents to con­sider join­ing a pro­fes­sion that’s so un­der­val­ued by the gov­ern­ment and badly over­stretched in terms of staffing.

“Last year 80% of mid­wives who were con­sid­er­ing leav­ing the NHS said they would stay if their pay in­creased. It’s es­sen­tial the gov­ern­ment puts the fund­ing in place to pay staff this fair in­crease so that the NHS can re­cruit and re­tain hard-work­ing mid­wives and other NHS staff.”

Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May said in the Com­mons that she val­ued the work of all those who work in the pub­lic sec­tor, but added: “We will con­tinue to bal­ance the need to pro­tect jobs, the need to pro­tect public­sec­tor work­ers and the need to en­sure we are also be­ing fair to those who are pay­ing for it.”

Jack Tay­lor

> Nurses and sup­port­ers in Par­lia­ment Square ear­lier this month dur­ing a protest against the gov­ern­ment pay cap

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