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19.06.17

Health bodies pile pressure on PM with call to scrap 1% pay cap

More pressure has been piled on Theresa May to scrap the 1% cap on NHS worker pay as unions representing 1.3 million health workers have today called on the prime minister to ditch the policy.

In a letter signed by 15 organisations including Unison, Unite, the GMB, the RCN and the BMA, May was told to get rid of the policy that has already “forced professionals out of jobs they love”.

It also stated that the cap was leading to a “profound and detrimental” effect on standards of care for people at a time when the workforce is stretched in every corner of the NHS. It also follows the RCN last month threatening the first strike in the union’s history over the pay cap, as it announced it would embark on “a summer of protest activity”.

“By your own admission, austerity, and a lack of investment in the public sector was a significant factor in the general election result,” the letter said.

“Many have said that the pay freeze in the public sector was in part to blame for your failure to secure a parliamentary majority, alongside senior health leaders who agree that people who work in our NHS should be fairly rewarded for the work they do.”

The letter also continued the argument made previously by health bodies that the cap was making it nearly impossible for the NHS to recruit and retain talented staff.

“Next month, our vital national service turns 69. In its seventieth year, you have the opportunity to show the country how much you value the lives of people who work in the NHS, and the people they serve,” it argued. “We call on you to prioritise patient safety by guaranteeing safe staffing across all of our services and changing your policy on NHS pay.

“Government should remove the pay cap and address the real-terms loss of earnings so the NHS can retain and attract staff, resolve the workforce shortage and ensure safe patient care.”

The news of the letter also comes just days after Jeremy Hunt hinted at the cap being removed as he told 1,000 NHS managers last week at NHS Confed: “I have a great deal of sympathy for the case that nurses amongst others have made on the issue of pay. I think they do an absolutely brilliant job.

“There is an enormous amount of goodwill, enormous amount of time given free of charge, because people care about their jobs and they see it not as a job, but as a vocation.”

A Department of Health spokesperson said: “As the secretary of state has made clear, the support and welfare of NHS staff is a top priority as they do a fantastic job – the government is committed to ensuring they can continue to deliver world-class patient care.”

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