NHS 3% pay rise is ‘grossly inadequate’, says Unite

23 July 2021

A recommended pay rise for NHS workers in England and Wales is ‘grossly inadequate and underwhelming’, especially given the sacrifices that health staff have made during the pandemic, Unite has said.

It was announced on Wednesday (21 July) that the independent Pay Review Body’s (PRB) recommendation for 2021-22 was a 3% increase for NHS employees. However, Unite says this does not even keep up with the RPI rate of inflation – currently at 3.9% – and it does not cover health visitors employed by Local Authorities or other service providers.

Unite national officer for health, Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe said: ‘The Pay Review Body’s recommendation of 3% is grossly inadequate and underwhelming, and in no way recognises the 19% drop in real earnings that many NHS workers have endured in the last decade, nor the Herculean sacrifices that health staff have and are continuing to make as Covid infection rates rapidly rise again. 

‘Members have been telling us that 3% would be insulting and shows that they are not valued – it doesn’t even match the 4% the Scottish Government offered to NHS workers backdated to December 2020.’

The 3% pay increase will apply to NHS staff in England and Wales. NHS Northern Ireland is yet to confirm its pay rise.

Unite called on health and social care secretary Sajid Javid to boost the PRB’s recommendation substantially – Unite’s long-standing policy has been an immediate pay rise of £3000-a-year or 15%, whichever is greater – otherwise staff would continue to walk with their feet. Unite also said that it would be speaking to its health members about possible next steps.

‘The lack of respect that the Johnson government has shown to NHS workers is breath-taking,’ Colenzo said.

‘New health and social care secretary Sajid Javid must give a “golden hello” pay award to NHS staff and open the purse strings so we can have an NHS “fit for purpose” for the 2020s.

Unite will be consulting widely with our 100,000 members in the health service in the coming days and weeks as to the next steps, which will include a consultative ballot on industrial action.”

Colenzo will explain how the proposed pay rise will affect both NHS and non-NHS community practitioners in the September/October edition of the journal.

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