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Health unions and MPs condemn 'derisory' 1% pay rise for NHS staff

Health unions and MPs condemn 'derisory' 1% pay rise for NHS staff

About 1.3 million NHS staff are to receive a 1% pay rise that will see nurses, midwives and radiographers earn barely £5 a week more next year, in a move that prompted a furious reaction from health unions.

The government's decision to limit NHS wage increases to 1% a year or freeze them for the seventh successive year led its own advisors to warn that the policy must end. Salary caps could exacerbate already serious understaffing in the NHS by making it less attractive to work for, especially as workloads are growing, the NHS pay review body (PRB) concluded.

The 1% pay cap is due to stay in place until the current parliament ends in 2020. Next year's 1% limit will also apply to doctors and dentists in the NHS. The settlement for 2017-18 is the sixth year in a row in which NHS staff's annual pay rise has been lower than the cost of living. Inflation, as measured by the Retail Prices Index, is running at 3.2%

In its latest annual report to ministers, the PRB (Pay Review Body), an independent body, said: "It is clear that current public sector pay policy is coming under stress. There are significant supply shortages in a number of staff groups and geographical areas. There are widespread concerns about recruitment, retention and motivation that are shared by employers and staff alike."

The report said that NHS staff pay will also be eroded even more than was expected during the coming year because "inflation is set to increase during 2017 compared to what was forecast, leading to bigger cuts in real pay for staff than were anticipated in 2015, when current public sector pay policy was announced by the new UK government".

Warning that action was needed to tackle severe staff shortages, the PRB added that "local pay flexibilities to address recruitment and retention issues are not being used to alleviate the very shortages they were designed to address. Our judgment is that we are approaching the point when the current pay policy will require some modification, and greater flexibility, within the NHS."

The BMA said the 'independent' Pay Review Body process was pointless, with it acting as a cover for driving down pay in real terms. The union said the rise had to be set in context with the current 2.3% increase in the cost of living, and previous pay suppression.

Dr Mark Porter, BMA Council chair, said: "In real terms, doctors' pay has sharply declined in the past five years, with junior doctors seeing their income drop by 17% at a time when their morale has been badly hit by the government's mishandling of the new contract.

"Over the same period consultants have seen their pay drop by 14% and GPs by 13%. Doctors will be angered by this decision as it comes during a period when many are working harder than ever before in an environment of rising patient demand, stagnating budgets and staff shortages. Hospital doctors and GPs are bearing the brunt of the funding crisis facing the NHS, and are choosing to leave."

The Department of Health said: "The dedication and sheer hard work of our NHS staff is absolutely crucial to delivering world-class care for patients. We are pleased to announce that all NHS staff will receive a 1% pay increase."

Source: The Guradian

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