Health unions are warning today that a toxic combination of increasing demand, shrinking resources and the pay freeze, are putting staff under severe pressure. The impact of the proposed pension changes and the massive programme of NHS reforms in the H …

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Health unions are warning today that a toxic combination of increasing demand, shrinking resources and the pay freeze, are putting staff under severe pressure.

The impact of the proposed pension changes and the massive programme of NHS reforms in the Health and Social Care Bill, are adding even more to the stress felt by staff.

In their joint evidence to the NHS Pay Review Body, the unions (British Association of Occupational Therapists, British Dietetic Association, British Orthoptic Society, Chartered Society of Physiotherpists, Federation of Clinical Scientists, GMB, Royal College of Midwives, Royal College of Nursing, Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists, Society of Radiographers, UCATT, UNISON and Unite) highlight increasing concerns about how they can maintain the quality of patient care.

High inflation and the government’s pay freeze have resulted in a big drop in the value of NHS pay over the last few years.  Many NHS staff are suffering financial hardship and the £250 given to the lowest paid has been soaked up by the impact of changes to tax credits, childcare fees and the rising cost of basic essentials such as food and fuel.

Christina McAnea, UNISON, NHS Staff-Side Chair said: “Stability is vital in any workforce – more so during a period of change. The current turmoil in the NHS is undermining staff morale and threatening the delivery of high quality patient care. “On top of job cuts and ward closures, growing waiting lists and an attack on their pension, staff face a re-organisation on an unprecedented scale.

“By imposing a pay freeze for the second year running, the government is adding insult to injury. Pay has never been generous in the NHS and, with inflation rising, many families are struggling to cover the costs of even basic essentials.”

Josie Irwin, RCN, Staff-Side Secretary said: “Coalition policy means that nurses face suffering a second year of pay

cuts.  This comes on top of unprecedented change and upheaval in the NHS – leading to low morale, uncertainty and insecurity.  The RCN calls on the Pay Review Body to recognise that further attacks on pay will only do more damage to recruitment and retention in the NHS.”

Stephen Austin, Head of Employment Relations for the BDA Trade Union, said: “For years the public have supported the workers in the NHS to get a fair rate of pay for the caring and committed work that they do and this was achieved by the last government, but the current government under the disguise of necessary cuts are returning health workers back into the position of being poorly paid”.

Rehana Azam GMB National Officer, Head of NHS said: “At a time when working people are dealing with their own deficits as the cost of living increases including the essentials like childcare, fuel and food. Wage stagnation and the position directed from government to pay review bodies is unhelpful and unfair.

“Public sector workers are being attacked on a daily basis by this government and the propaganda distributed about public sector workers with the attempts to put private sector workers against public sector workers will reveal the government’s only agenda is to undermine the hard-working people of this country by making them pay for a deficit which was not of their making. “All employers in this country are expected to negotiate, consult and agree changes to employment terms and conditions and the bullying tactics applied by this government in imposing changes to public sector workers’ terms and conditions will be challenged and stopped”.

Rachael Maskell, Head of Health, Unite, said: “The Pay Review Body continues to play an important role in providing independent and robust evidence on the remuneration of NHS employees. The NHS workforce is facing unprecedented challenges to its pay, in the midst of mass re-organisation and cuts, in some cases losing 25% in pay as a result.

“These cuts to services and employment terms are causing morale in the NHS to fall significantly. We are hopeful that this year’s Pay Review Body will ensure that NHS staff are remunerated fairly to ensure that they stop falling behind other sections of the workforce and economy. Unite further hopes that the Pay Review Body will address the recruitment and

retention challenges for pharmacists, and estates and maintenance workers in this year’s review.”


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