- A pay rise for all staff that at least protected the real value of wages against inflation;
- An increase in the minimum wage to bring it in line with the Rowntree Foundation Minimum Income Standard (£7.67).
The NHS Pay Review Body published its report in March setting out the following main points and recommendations to the government.
The review body expressed some frustration with the constrained remit presented to it by the four governments, which specified that it should only consider whether the pay rise for staff earning £21,000 or less should exceed £250. It expanded on these concerns in the light of the constrained remits for its future consideration of market facing pay and the next two pay rounds, stating that the remits “do not allow the review body to consider the full range of evidence and issues” and emphasising that they damage the abilityof the review body to maintain “the confidence of Agenda for Change staff.”
Staff earning £21,000 or less
- The review body accepted that incremental progression represents a separate issue to basic pay and therefore does not form part of their judgement on recommended pay uplift. However, it also noted that the annual increase in the NHS pay bill due to incremental rises represented 0.5% to 0.75%- a figure considerably down on previous years.
- The review body stated that affordability due to growing demands and rising costs in the context of £20bn efficiency savings by 2014/15 represented a genuine constraint on pay rises.
- The review body believes that recruitment is healthy and retention remains stable.
- The review body stated that it had sympathy with staff side arguments about the impact of high inflation, particularly on the low paid, and accepted that staff have had a reduction in real wages, but it emphasised that this impact is not unique to NHS staff.
- The review body noted concerns about morale and motivation resulting from budget cuts, job security, impact on workloads from vacancy freezes, service reconfiguration, workforce restructuring, pension changes and Health Bill inspired reform in England.
- The review body asked employers and staff side to discuss the impact of the narrowing differential between Agenda for Change (AfC) points 15 and 16.
- The review body concluded that there is no case to justify an increase above a flat rate of £250 for those AfC staff earning £21,000 or less.
- The review body rejected that there was a case for national recruitment and retention premia for pharmacists and building craft workers, following submissions by Unite and UCATT respectively.
General Workforce issues
- The review body noted that falls in the number of NHS training commissions can store up potential manpower supply problems and asked parties to report any concerns in future evidence.
- The review body acknowledged that morale and motivation across the NHS was threatened by a variety of local pressures and national developments, which could hit long term quality of care and recruitment and retention.
- The review body welcomed the new role of Centre for Workforce Intelligence, but expressed concerns over whether local healthcare providers can give sufficient priority to deliver effective local workforce planning and concerns over accountability for education and training provision.
- The review body stated that use of the Knowledge and Skills Framework remains patchy but can yield positive results where implemented.
- The review body attacked the absence and inconsistency of NHS workforce data, declaring that the issue risked undermining its ability to make pay recommendations.
At the same time as tabling the review body’s report, the government confirmed that they would implement their planned pay freeze for all staff earning over £21,000. UNISON roundly criticised the freeze, saying that
‘a toxic combination of increasing demand, shrinking resources and the pay freeze, was putting staff under severe pressure’ and highlighting the impact of the freeze on health workers.
The Health Service Group Executive has now decided to conduct a consultation exercise on UNISON’s response to these developments. The consultation will be co-ordinated by regions, which will seek views and feedback responses to the UNISON Health Group by April 6. You can feed back repsonses by clicking here.