NHS staff 'quitting jobs to stack shelves' because of pay

8 May 17

NHS staff are quitting their jobs to stack shelves at supermarkets because pay restraints are making wages uncompetitive, NHS Providers has warned.

The sector association has today issued a seven-point policy paper outlining its concerns affecting the NHS workforce ahead of the general election.

These fears include pay restraints, the impact of Brexit and the absence of a robust long term NHS workforce strategy.

In March the government announced that pay for NHS workers, doctors and dentists, and members of the armed forces would increase by 1% next year but inflation stands at 2.3%, which unions fear will make staffing problems worse.

The chief executive of NHS Providers Chris Hopson said workforce concerns are now the number one issue for the health service.

“Significant numbers of trusts say lower paid staff are leaving to stack shelves in supermarkets rather than carry on working in the NHS,” he said.

He said problems with recruitment and staff retention was making it harder to ensure patient safety, leading to “unsustainable staffing gaps” in hospitals, mental health and community trusts and ambulance services.

“Years of pay restraint and stressful working conditions are taking their toll. Pay is becoming uncompetitive."

According to Hopson the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, and the failure to reassure EU nationals about their long-term future was causing “vital recruitment” from the EU to drop “rapidly”.

Today’s policy paper comes after the concern of Brexit’s impact on EU recruitment in the public sector was raised at CIPFA debate on public services last month, which warned that the NHS could suffer from the process.

NHS Providers are calling on the next government to ensure the following:

  • Provide funding which allows trusts to deliver the standards expected by patients and enshrined in law in the NHS Constitution
  • Invest in social care, ensuring the extra money in the budget is used to ease pressure on the NHS, alongside a sustainable long term funding solution
  • Greater investment in mental health services, matching words with deeds
  • Supporting innovative collaboration between health and social care so more people can be treated and supported closer to home.
  • Establish the long term funding needs of the NHS to ensure it can meet the increasing demands of an ageing population
  • Recognise the economic value of the NHS as an organisation that provides employment, promotes research and ensures the UK life sciences sector is globally competitive

A Conservative party spokesman said: "The truth is that in order to continue to invest in the NHS, grow staff numbers and pay and improve patient care, we need to secure the economic progress we've made and get a good Brexit deal.

"That is only on offer at this election with the strong and stable leadership of Theresa May."

Last month Labour promised to end the pay freeze for NHS workers while the Lib Dems announced over the weekend that they would invest an extra £6bn in the NHS through a 1p rise on all rates of income tax.

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