Have a say in your pay

01 November 2017

Make your feelings about morale and motivation known in the NHS Staff Survey, says James Lazou, research officer at Unite.

The English NHS Staff Survey* is out again, and Unite is calling on all NHS staff to ensure that employers and government are fully aware of how you feel about the state of the NHS. If you haven’t received the survey yet, your employer will soon be asking you to fill it out.

We should be under no illusions – the results of the survey have an impact on your pay. Since 2012, ministers have used the survey to justify interfering in the normal pay-setting process for NHS staff and capping pay rises at 1%. The politicians argue that the NHS Staff Survey shows that the pay cap is not affecting staff morale and services. 

We all know that this is simply not true. In August 2017, Unite carried out a survey of its health sector membership for our NHS Pay Review Body submission. Just looking at the health visitors’ results illustrates the kind of pressure our members are under.

What we are asking for

Fourteen NHS trade unions have come together to ask the government to give you a meaningful pay increase in April to help keep up with the cost of living and begin to make up for the years of lost pay. This will help secure the future of the NHS by making it a more attractive place to work. We are asking for:

  • A pay increase in line with inflation
  • An £800 consolidated lump sum for all staff
  • Meaningful discussions with government about how we make the NHS pay system better, fairer and more sustainable.

Blows to Morale

Nearly 93% of health visitors said that the public sector pay cap had caused a ‘negative’ or ‘very negative’ impact on morale, with 54% saying it had negatively impacted on services for patients; and 78% said that an above-inflation pay rise would improve job satisfaction. 

Health visitors also complain of increased workloads. Compared with the same time last year, 65% of health visitors reported that their workload had ‘increased a lot’ while 22% reported that it had ‘increased a little’. As many as 82% of health visitors and 76% of nurses reported ‘frequent’ staff shortages in their departments over the previous 12 months.


Government in denial

In a typical week, 51% of health visitors said that they ‘always’ worked more than their contracted hours. A further 33% also reported this happening ‘frequently’; 65% of health visitors reported that these additional hours were ‘all unpaid’.

When asked about their ‘morale and motivation’ over the previous year, 88% of health visitors reported that it was worse or a lot worse in their workplace. When asking why morale had generally worsened, the most frequent answer given was ‘increased workplace stress’ at around 90%. Pay was the second most frequent, and third was ‘dissatisfaction with the quality of care you feel able to provide’. 

Taking the above into consideration, it is perhaps unsurprising that 64% of health visitors would ‘probably not’ or ‘definitely not’ recommend their own profession as a career in the NHS and 45% had ‘very seriously’ considered leaving the NHS during the past year.

Sadly, the government continues to be in denial, either through incompetence or design. Unite is campaigning for this unfair policy to end and NHS staff to receive a truly decent pay rise. We can deliver this but we need your help to keep up the pressure.

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