Unions welcomed report which says reducing living standards of NHS staff as part of £20bn savings cannot secure a sustainable future for health service

Tim Lezard

Unite Don't break britain flagHealth service unions have welcomed a report by MPs which found that reducing the living standards of NHS staff cannot secure a sustainable future for the health service.

The Health Select Committee’s investigation into spending on health and care services says the squeeze on wages has been shown to be “flawed, short-sighted and dogmatic”.

MPs criticised the so-called Nicholson Challenge to squeeze £20bn of savings from the NHS by 2015.

Unite’s head of health Rachael Maskell said: “It is refreshing that MPs on the committee have recognised that hitting staff pay is not the way forward in building a progressive health service.

“It has been shown to be flawed, short-sighted and ideologically-driven.

“The implicit underlying message here is that privatisation of the NHS, which is predicated on relentlessly driving down employment costs, is a dangerous road to go down.

“MPs heard that under-spending of budgets has been common practice in the NHS under the present regime of NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson – this is a crazy policy to follow when demand for services is growing. If the money is there, it should be invested in improving the quality of health services and not sat upon by NHS bureaucrats.”

The Health Select Committee report concluded that ‘public sector pay restraint has the short term effect of reducing the cost of service provision to the NHS budget, the Committee does not accept that can be regarded as a sustainable form of efficiency gain.’

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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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