The pay rise for nurses, midwives and other healthcare staff in 2022/23 must be ‘game-changing’ if the NHS is to hold onto the staff necessary for its post-Covid recovery, health unions have warned.
In evidence submitted to the NHS pay review body (NHS PRB) yesterday, 14 health unions – including the RCN, Unison, Unite and the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) – said NHS staff on Agenda for Change contracts deserved a ‘significant wage boost’.
The joint submission warned many employees who ‘have simply had enough’ are actively seeking or seriously considering a job move. Without a pay rise, the NHS will ‘continue to lose staff at alarming rates’ with ‘patients suffering the consequences’, amid ‘soaring living costs’, it said.
It comes after the Government’s accepted the NHS PRB’s recommendation of a 3% pay rise for 2021/22, which will be implemented in Northern Ireland, England and Wales, while Scotland gave its staff a 4% pay rise. The RCN and other health unions have protested the pay increases.
‘NHS staff deserve better’
The unions also raised concern the Government may not have met its own deadline of yesterday for submitting evidence to the NHS pay review body.
They warned the pay rise will be delayed if the Government has failed to meet the cut-off date yesterday. Last year, the Government was criticised for delaying the 2021/22 announcement.
Sara Gorton, Unison head of health, said the Government ‘mustn’t make the same mistake again’ after healthcare workers were made to wait last year for the pay announcement.
She added: ‘An above-inflation increase alone isn’t a magic solution to the NHS’ many problems. But a decent wage boost could be just the trick to persuade many burnt-out staff to stay.’
Meanwhile, Joanne Galbraith-Marten, RCN director of employment relations, argued ‘the spiralling cost of living puts NHS staff under even greater strain’ than before.
She continued: ‘Exhausted and demoralised staff need to know the government is on their side – not to hear that it is stalling again on NHS pay. To prevent an exodus from the health service, with untold consequences for patients, ministers must quickly rise to the challenge.’
The other unions who submitted evidence were: British Association of Occupational Therapists, British Dietetic Association, British Orthoptic Society, Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, Royal College of Podiatry, Federation of Clinical Scientists, GMB, Managers in Partnership, Prison Officers Association and Society of Radiographers.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: ‘NHS staff – from doctors and nurses to paramedics and porters – have rightly received a 3% pay rise this year, which has increased nurses’ pay by £1,000 on average.
‘We have provided record investment for the health service and are committed to reducing vacancy numbers and growing the workforce, with 50,000 more nurses by the end of this Parliament. We will consider the pay review bodies’ reports carefully when we receive them.’