The credibility of the NHS Pay Review Body (PRB) for England is under fire after a survey of Unite’s NHS members revealed that a vast majority did not believe it was truly independent when it came to recommending the annual pay award.

Unite said 88 per cent of the 2,950 members in England who replied to its survey earlier this month felt the PRB was not recommending fair pay increases for staff and was failing to value their individual contributions.

The PRB is due to report in May on its recommendations for the 1.2 million NHS workers in England for 2022/23. Unite, which has 100,000 members in the health service, said that the PRB was ‘drinking in the last chance saloon’ in terms of its credibility.

The health trade unions, including Unite, this week submitted their joint written evidence to the PRB arguing for an increase for their members that reflects the coming cost of living crisis, as well as their efforts in combating the pandemic in a NHS which has an estimated 93,000 staff vacancies in England.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “As Unite’s survey reveals, the vast majority of our NHS members simply don’t believe that the PRB will deliver for them – in terms of credibility the PRB is drinking in ‘the last chance saloon’ and has been for some time.

“Members of the PRB now need to consider the evidence from the health unions very carefully and recommend an award that takes into account the heroic efforts of staff over the last two years; acknowledges the cost of living crisis that millions of workers face in 2022; and makes giant steps to tackle the ‘recruitment and retention’ calamity engulfing the NHS.”

Unite national officer for health Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe said: “Our members’ belief is that the PRB is not delivering fair pay for our members with 88 per cent of those surveyed this month supporting this view. For too long, the spectre that the government won’t implement a proper and meaningful annual pay rise recommendation has hung, like a dark cloud, over the PRB’s deliberations.

Chair of the Unite national health committee Paddy Bond, who is also a NHS plumber, said: “The PRB needs to ensure there is a payment settlement that addresses the chronic workforce shortages across the NHS with nearly 100,000 jobs vacant in England.  A substantial pay award package is necessary to retain and recruit NHS staff.”

Unite’s members voted against last year’s three per cent NHS pay rise in England, which was imposed by ministers.

Unite is dedicated to advancing the jobs, pay and conditions of its members and will fight back against any efforts to diminish workers' living standards.


Notes to editors:

In its own separate submission to the PRB, Unite outlined the key findings of its survey of nearly 3,000 of its health service members in January 2022. Please see below:

Do you feel fairly paid for the work that you do?

  • No 78%

Do not think that the PRB process is delivering fair pay for them and their colleagues.

  • No 88%

As a result of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic which would best describe your service?

  • Stretched 50%
  • Overwhelmed 36%

Over the last year have you experienced staff shortages in your workplace?

  • Frequently 74%
  • Sometimes 19%
  • Occasionally 6%

In the last year, have you raised concerns about safe staffing levels in your working area/department?

  • Yes 66%

Compared to a year ago is morale/motivation in your workplace?

  • A lot worse – 40%
  • Worse – 37%

Over the last 12 months how seriously have you considered leaving your current job?

  • 38% very seriously
  • 30% fairly seriously

How often do you work through your lunch breaks?

  • Regularly 55%
  • Occasionally 28%

How often do you work beyond your contracted hours?

  • Regularly 53%
  • Occasionally 30%

How often do you feel stressed at work?

  • Regularly 55%
  • Occasionally 37%

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Unite press office is on:  020 3371 2065.

Please note the numbers above are for journalists’ enquiries only.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @unitetheunion Facebook: unitetheunion1 Web: 

Unite is the leading union in the UK and Ireland, dedicated to defending and improving members' jobs, pay and conditions. The general secretary is Sharon Graham.