Scrap the cap!
British nurses and midwives are pressing for a 3.9 per cent pay rise and £800 ($A1376) in back pay after 7 years of enforced austerity.
Fourteen unions representing one million health workers in the NHS have written directly to the government and demanded it provide funds to the NHS to meet the pay rise.
They say nurses and mid-wives and other health staff have experienced a cut of 15 per cent in real-terms since 2010 due to the government’s one per cent cap on wage increases.
Last month the government abandoned the cap, which covered the whole public sector, in what has been described as a symbolic U-turn on austerity.
Sara Gorton, head of health at Unison, one of the largest NHS unions, told the Nursing Standard that a pay rise for health workers was critical.
“Their wages continue to fall behind inflation as food and fuel bills, housing and transport costs rise,” she said.
“A decent pay rise will make it easier for struggling hospital trusts to attract new recruits and hold onto experienced staff. Continuing with the pay cap will further damage services, and that affects us all.”
Jon Skewes, from the Royal College of Midwives, said the claim “represents fair compensation for the rise in cost of living and goes someway to make up for midwives’ pay losing over £6000 ($A10,321) in value since 2010”.
Employers and the public support NHS pay rise
NHS staff have the support of their employers in their push for better pay. The NHS Confederation, which represents health organisations, said that “workforce is now their number one challenge”.
“We do not believe the one per cent pay cap is sustainable and our members have mounting concern about both recruitment and reten-tion of vital front line staff,” said NHS Confederation chief executive Niall Dickson.
“We recognise that extra money for healthcare has to come from somewhere, but we believe there would be public support for making this a priority.”
Union research confirms that there is strong public support for a pay rise.
A survey of over 2000 people found that:
- 84 per cent of the public supported the removal of the one per cent cap on pay rises for NHS staff
- 69 per cent of the public supported NHS staff being paid an extra £800 on top of a pay increase that is in line with inflation
- 73 per cent of respondents backed more funding being made available by the government to the NHS pay review body to fund the increase.
“This poll shows that the government needs to stop the excuses and start listening to public opinion,” said Unison’s Sara Gorton.
“Hard-pressed NHS staff from all disciplines go above and beyond every day to keep services running. It’s time for the government to show it values them enough to invest in them.”