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Inflation-proof pay rise for nurses might ‘persuade many burnt-out staff to stay’

Unions give evidence to NHS pay review body, and demand action from ministers on pay to help retain and attract staff to the NHS

Unions give evidence to NHS pay review body, and demand action from ministers on pay to help retain and attract staff to the NHS

Health unions have called on the government to deliver an inflation-proof pay rise for nurses and other healthcare workers or risk a staff exodus from the NHS.

In evidence given to the NHS pay review body (RB) today, 14 unions – including the RCN, Unison and the Royal College of Midwives – warned that without a decent pay rise this year the NHS in England and Wales would continue to lose staff at an alarming rate.

Unions give evidence to NHS pay review body, and demand action from ministers on pay to help retain and attract staff to the NHS

Picture: iStock

Health unions have called on the government to deliver an inflation-proof pay rise for nurses and other healthcare workers or risk a staff exodus from the NHS.

In evidence given to the NHS pay review body (RB) today, 14 unions – including the RCN, Unison and the Royal College of Midwives – warned that without a decent pay rise this year the NHS in England and Wales would continue to lose staff at an alarming rate.

The joint submission calls on the government to ensure the 2022 pay rise cushions health workers from increased living costs and helps the NHS to retain and attract staff.

Ministers must act now on pay, RCN says

RCN director of employment relations and legal services Joanne Galbraith-Marten said exhausted nurses need to know the government will not stall again on NHS pay.

‘Ministers repeatedly inflicted real-terms pay cuts on NHS staff and, this year, the spiralling cost of living puts them under even greater strain,’ she said.

‘To prevent an exodus from the health service, with untold consequences for patients, ministers must quickly rise to the challenge.’

‘Decent wage boost’ could stem exodus of staff

Sara Gorton

Unison’s head of health Sara Gorton echoed these concerns and called on the government to ‘pull its finger out’ to hold on to experienced healthcare staff.

‘An above-inflation increase alone isn’t a magic solution to the NHS’s many problems, but a decent wage boost could be just the trick to persuade many burnt-out staff to stay,’ she said.

A decision on a pay rise for nurses in 2022-23 was pushed back until the end of spring after health and social care secretary Sajid Javid asked the RB to report back on a potential pay rise in May 2022. This means any deal would not be ready for the start of the 2022-23 financial year in April.

Unions said the move to delay a decision on pay was ‘unacceptable’.

Many RCN members would strike over pay

The government clashed with unions last year over its initial 1% pay offer, and eventually awarded a 3% pay rise in England and Wales.

A recent indicative ballot of RCN England and Wales members found that most who took part in the ballot were prepared to strike over the deal.

Government defends its pay offer

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said the government will consider the RB report ‘carefully’ when it is delivered.

‘NHS staff, from doctors and nurses to paramedics and porters, have rightly received a 3% pay rise this year, which has increased nurses’ pay by £1,000 on average,’ they said.


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