Proposed 1% pay rise for NHS ‘the worst kind of insult’


Unions have dismissed a recommended 1% pay increase for NHS staff as ‘pitiful and bitterly disappointing’ and ‘the worst kind of insult’.

In its written evidence to the NHS Pay Review Body, the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) recommended a headline pay award of 1% for the 2021/22 pay round. It said that anything higher would “require re-prioritisation”.

“Covid-19 has placed a huge strain on both public and NHS finances,” it said. “The economic outlook for 2021/22 remains uncertain and pay awards must be both fair and affordable.”

Although the Pay Review Body makes recommendations to the government, ultimately it is ministers who decide pay levels for the NHS.

The Pay Review Body is expected to publish its report by May, which is likely to mean that NHS staff would not receive a pay increase until July at the earliest.

The Royal College of Nursing’s (RCN) chief executive and general secretary, Dame Donna Kinnair, said the government could “expect a backlash from a million NHS workers”.

“This is pitiful and bitterly disappointing,” she said. “The government is dangerously out of touch with nursing staff, NHS workers and the public.

“Taxpayers are supportive of a significant and fair pay rise for NHS workers – this year of all years.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has also criticised the proposed pay deal, which would amount to a pay cut in real terms.

He tweeted: “You can’t rebuild a country by cutting nurses’ pay. Give our Covid heroes a pay rise.”

The RCN’s Fair Pay For Nursing campaign has called for a 12.5% pay increase for all nursing staff covered by ‘Agenda for Change’ contract terms, as part of a one-year deal that applies equally to all bands.

Kinnair said: “If the Pay Review Body accepts the government view, a pay award as poor as this would amount to only an extra £3.50 per week take-home pay for an experienced nurse. Nobody would think that is fair in the middle of a pandemic and it will do nothing to prevent the exodus from nursing.

“Nursing staff would feel they are being punished and made to pay for the cost of the pandemic. It is a political decision to underfund and undervalue nursing staff.”

A 1% pay rise is the “worst kind of insult the government could give health workers”, said Sara Gorton, head of health at union Unison.

“Staff will think it’s some kind of joke,” said Gorton. “Ministers should hang their heads in shame, go back to the drawing board and come up with the kind of pay rise that matches the astounding efforts staff have gone to in the past year.

“The entire NHS workforce will now expect to see the pay review body come up with a much more sensible and realistic recommendation than this laughable suggestion from the government.”

Unison has urged the government to award all NHS staff a pay rise of at least £2,000.

The 1% proposal was defended by business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng on BBC One’s Question Time last night. He said: “No one is doubting the NHS has been absolutely first class in this whole pandemic. What I am suggesting is that the whole economy has been under huge pressure.

“When I look at people in the hospitality sector, in aviation, in retail, many of them are very, very worried they won’t even be in a job in two or three months.”

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, mental health and patient safety minister Nadine Dorries noted that many other public sector workers were facing a pay freeze, adding that 1% was all the government could afford.

HR opportunities in Healthcare on Personnel Today

Browse more HR opportunities in healthcare

5 Responses to Proposed 1% pay rise for NHS ‘the worst kind of insult’

  1. Avatar
    Sandra Harvey 6 Mar 2021 at 7:19 pm #

    I was in hospital for 14 weeks last year, not Covid related, heart problem. The nurses were terrific, I had never been in hospital before, I am 70 years old. I was unable to see my GP for 7 weeks before being admitted and it is still impossible to see one. Cut their pay and give it to the nurses.

    I could not believe how objectionable some patients were.

    Clapping is no good – pay them properly!

  2. Avatar
    SATVEER BHAMRA 8 Mar 2021 at 10:38 pm #

    The NHS staff have done a fantastic job but I am a critical worker as are the police, fire and many others. In these unprecedented times of difficulties with so many people loosing their jobs and income, it is only right the Government is realistic about handing out pay rises when others are suffering.
    The NHS were not the only ones on the front line, too much was focused on their efforts when it was a collaboration of services nationally.
    I firmly believe the public demonstrated this when there was little support for the ‘clap for NHS’ the second time round.
    Pay rises should only be given when it is feasible to do so. The country is in the midst of the largest economic downfall and national debt since WW2. The NHS should really be realistic. Many business throughout the country were offering free repairs to vehicles, boilers and fast track services to NHS staff, perks which equated to more than most would receive in the working world.
    Have some consideration. 1% is better than nothing.

  3. Avatar
    Michael 11 Mar 2021 at 11:24 am #

    Lets face it, the country is broke.

    The Gov have allowed the NHS a 1% pay rise which is not afforded to any other public sector worker. They should think themselves lucky they got anything.

    Im sure many public sector workers could argue why they are entitled to the same such as Police (being spat at by people saying they have COVID etc.)

    the armed forces who year in year out deal with pandemic level idiocracy on a yearly basis.

    Not to forget the humble shop workers in the private sector on min wage not even sure if they will have jobs next year.

    Every public sector worker has felt the same pay restraint as the NHS over the years.

    They are having a laugh asking for 12.5%. All the supporters of such an increase have no idea what they are talking about. A 12.5% increase would cost billions and come from the already stretched NHS budget.

    • Avatar
      Steve 16 Mar 2021 at 5:57 am #

      Speaking of billions. The government is just about to spend £10billion on more nuclear warheads… there is always money for what they ‘want’ to spend money on, and the Tories ‘always’ spend it. £110billion for HS2…

  4. Avatar
    Mike Shackell 11 Mar 2021 at 4:07 pm #

    Just wait and see what the MP’S give themselves next time around. If you think the NHS staff are angry now that’s nothing to what they will feel when the usual inflation busting rises are handed out to our wonderful honourable shower in Westminster. It must be so hard living on the best part of 90 grand!!!.

Leave a Reply