Health unions urge PM to ditch public sector pay cap

19 Jun 17

A group of leading health trade unions have signed a joint letter to the prime minister urging her to use the Queen’s Speech to scrap the 1% public sector pay cap.

The letter, signed by 15 organisations, including the Royal College of Nursing, Unison and the British Medical Association among others, follows a suggestion by health secretary Jeremy Hunt that the government could be reviewing the pay cap.

Last week Hunt told the NHS Confederation conference he had “a great deal of sympathy” over pay concerns and would raise the issue with the chancellor.

The trade union representatives warned in their letter that health and care services are “becoming unsafe” and “struggling to make do without the staff they need”.

They wrote: “Organisations that represent patients and our NHS workforce are calling for the Queen’s Speech to mark a clear change in direction.”

PF has reported on numerous studies that warned that the public sector pay restraint would have a detrimental impact on service performance, staff morale and recruitment and retention.

This year’s increase, described as “miserly and cruel” by the GMB trade union, comes as official figures show inflation has hit 2.9%, indicating a further squeeze on private and public sector wages.

Today’s letter states: “The public sector pay cap has forced professionals out of jobs they love. Those who stay are overstretched and under pressure to do ever more with less.”

It points out that the cap is affecting the recruitment and retention of health care professionals and is having a profound effect on care standards.

The letter concludes: “We call on you to prioritise patient safety by guaranteeing safe staffing across all of our services and changing your policy on NHS pay.

“Government should remove the pay cap and address the real-terms loss of earnings so the NHS can retain and attract staff, resolve the workforce shortage and ensure safe patient care.”

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