NHS pay freeze must carry on, say employers
By Richard Johnstone | 23 October 2012
NHS Employers has urged the health service pay review body to reject trade union calls for a pay increase for staff.
In its submission to the independent arbiter yesterday afternoon, NHS Employers said it recognised that many health workers were concerned about their pay following the two-year public sector pay freeze.
However, it added that the NHS faced ‘considerable financial challenges’ and the best way to minimise job losses and protect quality patient care was to continue the pay freeze.
Trade union Unison’s own submission yesterday morning warned of a risk of ‘massive industrial unrest’ in the NHS over the next year if the pay freeze did not end.
In last year’s Autumn Statement, Chancellor George Osborne revealed that he wanted pay rises to be capped at 1% after the freeze.
However, NHS Employers’ submission said this would add £400m – £500m to health service costs. Such an increase would be ‘unaffordable’ and could force cuts in staff and services as the NHS strove to meet the ‘unprecedented’ £20bn worth of savings required by 2015.
Around 60% of staff would receive 'incremental' salary increases next year, which reward individual workers for additional experience, the statement added. This alone would make it financially difficult for NHS organisations, it said.
Dean Royles, director of NHS Employers, said: ‘We recognise that high-quality services depend on having committed and motivated staff and I would love to be in a different position. We fully appreciate that many staff are frustrated because pay scales have been frozen for two years. These recommendations are not made lightly. But we believe they are essential to protect jobs and maintain the quality of care the NHS provides.
‘It is a major challenge to balance the interests of patients, taxpayers and staff as we try to achieve efficiency savings of £20bn by 2015. I believe the information we have put in our submission strikes the right balance. We have asked the pay review body not to recommend increasing the pay scale from April 2013.’
The submission also urged the review body to recommend changes to the national Agenda for Change terms and conditions framework. Terms needed to become ‘more affordable and flexible’ if the NHS were to ‘retain the confidence of local employers and be sustainable for the future’, it added.
NHS Employers’ submission to the doctors and dentists pay review body earlier this month also argued that there should be no pay scale rise for doctors and dentists next year.