Jane Bates: A fly's eye view of the NHS pay rise talks 

Fancy being an eavesdropper when the proposed salary hikes were devised? Jane Bates takes you there...

Fancy being an eavesdropper when the proposed salary hikes were devised?

The fly on the wall rubs its back legs together and performs a little shimmy. ‘Human beings, eh?’ it says to itself. ‘Just take these Treasury people.’ Then it settles down to listen.

‘Let’s offer them 6.5%,’ says one. ‘It sounds generous and those NHS workers are too ground down and exhausted to figure out that, over three years, it hardly gives them a rise at all. They are so busy being do-gooders they won’t understand about inflation.’ 

‘We need to remind them they are lucky to get anything,’ says Philip. ‘Dock them a day’s holiday.’ 

‘We tried that, Philip, remember? But someone did the maths,’ says someone else. ‘I know – let’s stop them from having meal breaks. That’ll teach them!’ 

‘But they’re too busy to take meal breaks, everyone knows that,’ says Philip. 

A stroke of genius

Philip looks so down-hearted, the fly almost feels sorry for him. Then his face creases into a ghastly smile. ‘I have a genius idea!’ he says, almost jumping out of his seat.  

‘We’ll announce that some people will get up to a 29% pay rise. “Up to” can mean anything, and it will be so confusing that no one will have a clue who’s entitled to what and who isn’t.  

‘Then we prolong the negotiations and backdate the award, so it looks good but we get a shedload returned in tax. We give with one hand and take with the other. High five, everyone!’ 

‘High five, Philip!’ they all say.

The fly, caught up in the excitement, has a little buzz. 

‘Will someone get rid of that irritating fly?’


Jane Bates is an ophthalmic nurse in Hampshire 

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