Trade unions representing 1.3 million nurses, doctors and other health professionals have written to Theresa May asking her to ditch the longstanding 1% pay cap on NHS staff.
In a joint letter to the Prime Minister, 15 trade unions including Unison, Unite and the GMB ask for this week’s Queen’s speech to include plans to scrap the NHS pay cap. They say the fall in real-terms pay since the policy was introduced is the cause of recruitment and retention problems, which ultimately affect patient safety.
Health resources on XpertHR
“By your own admission, austerity, and a lack of investment in the public sector was a significant factor in the general election result,” the letter says.
“Many have said that the pay freeze in the public sector was in part to blame for your failure to secure a parliamentary majority.”
NHS staff have grown increasingly angry as the inflation rate overtook their 1% pay increase. Last week, the consumer price index (CPI) hit a four-year high of 2.9%. The retail price index (RPI), often used in pay deal negotiations, stood at 3.7%.
“The longstanding cap stands in the way of recruiting and retaining the best in healthcare,” say the unions. “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.”
On Thursday, following a speech praising the staff of the emergency services and NHS staff for their response to the Grenfell tower fire, health secretary Jeremy Hunt indicated that he would press the Treasury to give public-sector staff more pay.
Conservative MP Stephen Crabb, former work and pensions secretary, said last week that he lost votes in the general election because of Tory austerity. After years of pay restraint, teachers, nurses and local council staff all deserved a pay rise, he told BBC Wales.