Unite: pay rise suggestion is ‘insulting’ and will result in NHS crisis

19 March 2021

The 1% pay rise proposal for NHS staff will lead to a staff exodus and waiting list crisis, says Unite in response to the recent government pay recommendation.

Unite has said the staffing and waiting list crisis will unfold within five years due to a shortage of health professionals to carry out vital operations and procedures.

The union explained that the anger felt by healthcare professionals at the ‘insulting’ government pay proposal would exacerbate the already existing recruitment and retention crisis in the NHS.

The government’s recommendation in March to the independent NHS Pay Review Body (PRB) – a 1% pay rise for 2021-22 – has also been met with anger by other health unions.

Unite is currently liaising with other health unions as to the next steps in the pay justice campaign, including the possibility of an industrial action ballot. The PRB is due to report in May.

Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said: ‘NHS staff are exhausted after a year of tireless caring for patients during the pandemic.

‘Many are now prepared to leave the health service after a decade of pay austerity which has seen pay packets for many shrink by 19% in real terms.

‘The 1% recommendation could be the last straw for many dedicated staff.’

She highlighted the ‘estimated 100,000 vacancies’ in the NHS,’ including 40,000 nursing posts’ - and the ‘backlog of non-Covid procedures, such as cancer treatments’.

‘The NHS recruitment and retention crisis is very real – and a decent pay rise will go some way in addressing this issue’, she concluded.

Unite has said they will continue to ‘make the case strongly that NHS staff, deserve an immediate pay rise of £3000-a-year or 15%, whichever is greater.’

Though they say that ‘even this figure won’t start to make up for the 19% decrease in pay in real terms that many NHS workers have lost’ since 2010.

Unite will be consulting members on the next steps.

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