The Pay Review Body’s (PRB) recommendation for a three per cent pay rise for NHS workers in England is ‘grossly inadequate and underwhelming, given the sacrifices that health staff have made over the last 18 months combating coronavirus, Unite the union said this evening (Wednesday 21 July).

Unite, which has 100,000 members in the health service, said the independent PRB’s recommendation for 2021/2022 did not even keep up with the RPI rate of inflation, currently at 3.9 per cent, and it also did not start to make up for the 19 per cent loss of earnings in real terms that many NHS staff have suffered since the Tories came to power in 2010.

Unite called on health and social care secretary Sajid Javid to boost the PRB’s recommendation substantially, otherwise staff would continue to walk with their feet, such as nurse Jenny McGee who cared for the prime minister when he had Covid; and the NHS ‘recruitment and retention’ crisis would become even more acute with the adverse impact that would have on the nearly five million patients in England waiting for non-Covid procedures and operations, such as cancer treatments and hip replacements.

Unite said that it would be consulting its health members on the next steps with a range of options on the table, including a consultative ballot for industrial action with the option to strike.

Unite national officer for health Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe said: “The Pay Review Body’s recommendation of three per cent is grossly inadequate and underwhelming, and in no way recognises the 19 per cent 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 three per cent would be insulting and show that they are not valued - it doesn’t even match the four per cent the Scottish Government offered to NHS workers backdated to December 2020.

“Three per cent will also do very little to staunch the escalating ‘recruitment and retention’ crisis and free up resources to tackle the enormous backlog in non-Covid procedures, such as hip replacements. It is estimated there are 100,000 vacancies in the health service and very little in the way of a plan to recruit the numbers needed.

“The lack of respect that the Johnson government has shown to NHS workers is breath-taking as staff now face an increase that is still lagging behind the RPI rate of inflation, currently at 3.9 per cent.

“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 a 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.”

Unite’s long-standing policy has been an immediate pay rise of £3,000-a-year or 15 per cent, whichever is greater.


Notes to editors:

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Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.