latest health care news


Nurses and midwives call for fair pay as Hunt commences pay round

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt today sent a letter to the NHS Pay Review Body, starting the 2018-19 pay round process for staff.

The announcement has been greeted speculatively by both the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) and the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), with both saying staff should not be expected to “fund their own pay rise.”

Both colleges are concerned about a section in the announcement made by chancellor Philip Hammond in the Autumn Budget, which linked any pay increase with improvements in productivity.

In his letter, Hunt wrote: “The chancellor committed at Autumn Budget to provide additional funding for pay awards for staff employed under the national Agenda for Change contract provided the awards are part of an agreement with Agenda for Change trades unions about reforms to boost productivity.

“In considering future remuneration of these staff, I am therefore asking NHS Employers to continue exploratory talks with the Agenda for Change trades unions, with a view to the latter obtaining mandates to negotiate a multi-year agreement.

“Any agreed deal would need to be one that gives valued staff a fair pay rise alongside improving recruitment and retention and developing reforms which better reflect modern working practices, service needs and fairness for employees.”

Ending the pay cap

Currently, NHS staff have been held to the same 1% pay cap as other public-sector workers since 2013, but the Budget announcement seemed to bring an end to that policy.

However, staff fear that the extra money they receive will come from the same, or a very similar, funding total to the one received at the moment – meaning overall services would receive less and be able to employ less staff.

Jon Skewes, RCM director for policy, employment relations and communications explained: “The need to fund fair pay for NHS staff is now well overdue. Seven years of pay restraint has seen the value of pay of the average midwife drop by over £6,600 since 2010 and when the RCM submits our evidence to the PRB we will show the drastic impact this has had on midwives and maternity support workers and the impact this has on the service and care they provide.

“England is 3,500 full time midwives short of the numbers needed; a shortage that has lasted over a generation. The most recent workforce figures have shown a collapse in the numbers of EU midwives who are applying to work in the UK due to increasing uncertainty of their working rights post Brexit which threatens to make the shortage even worse.

“Last year the RCM conducted a survey that found 80% of midwives who are considering leaving midwifery would stay if they had a fair pay rise.”

The RCM has called for a pay rise in line with RPI inflation at 3.9%, along with an £800 uplift to cover losses since 2010.

In addition, RCN Chief Executive Janet Davies said: “Nursing staff need a meaningful pay award. They can’t continue to put up with the year-on-year erosion in pay they’ve endured for the last few years, adding up to a 14% pay cut in real terms since 2010.

“More and more nursing staff are struggling to pay their bills or even put food on the table for their families. Increased pay is vital so that existing staff stay, and the health service is able to begin to fill the tens of thousands of nursing vacancies.”

The RCN also called for an £800 payment to cover lost earnings, as well as an above-inflation pay rise.

The organisation has other payment concerns too, specifically about the lack of clarity on the pay award in Northern Ireland, where nursing staff have not yet had a pay increase for 2017/18.

“In the absence of an Assembly or Direct Rule Minister, we call for urgent clarification about how a decision will be reached on the Northern Ireland pay round,” Davies commented.

The Labour Party have criticised the government’s lack of details on the pay award, saying the government should commit to giving all NHS “the pay they deserve” amid fears of a worsening workforce crisis.

“It is staggering that ministers are still refusing to give details of a pay rise for NHS staff, even six months on from a General Election at which their pay cap was roundly rejected,” said Justin Madders, shadow health minister.

“The government say they want to see workforce reforms made to increase productivity, but they’ve said nothing about what changes they want made, what level of pay rise staff can expect to see, or whether a pay rise will be applied across the board.”

Top image: NurPhoto/SIPA USA/PA Images

Have you got a story to tell? Would you like to become an NHE columnist? If so, click here.


There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment


national health executive tv

more videos >

featured articles

View all News

last word

Hard to be optimistic

Hard to be optimistic

Rachel Power, chief executive of the Patients Association, warns that we must be realistic about the very real effects of continued underfunding across the health service. It’s now beyond more > more last word articles >

health service focus

View all News


Data saves lives

14/02/2018Data saves lives

Kuldeep Sohal, programme manager at Connected Yorkshire, part of Connected ... more >
Celebrating 75 years of healthcare

14/02/2018Celebrating 75 years of healthcare

Julian Amey, chief executive of the Institute of Healthcare Engineering &am... more >


Duncan Selbie: A step on the journey to population health

24/01/2018Duncan Selbie: A step on the journey to population health

The NHS plays a part in the country’s wellness – but it’s... more >
681 149x260 NHE Subscribe button

the scalpel's daily blog

International Women’s Day: time for change in gender pay

08/03/2018International Women’s Day: time for change in gender pay

Dean Royles, director of human resources and organisational development at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, analyses the latest gender pay gap report released by trusts in ... more >
read more blog posts from 'the scalpel' >

healthcare events

events calendar


March 2018

mon tue wed thu fri sat sun
26 27 28 1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30 31 1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8

editor's comment

25/09/2017A hotbed of innovation

This edition of NHE comes hot on the heels of this year’s NHS Expo which, once again, proved to be a huge success at Manchester Central. A number of announcements were made during the event, with the health secretary naming the second wave of NHS digital pioneers, or ‘fast followers’, which follow the initial global digital exemplars who were revealed at the same show 12 months earlier.  Jeremy Hunt also stated that by the end of 2018 – the 70th birthday... read more >