‘NHS pay must keep up with private sector to retain staff,’ says Stevens

NHS England’s chief executive says pay will need to keep up with the private sector if the health service is going to recruit and retain the right staff.

Giving evidence to the Commons health select committee, Simon Stevens said that although more than 23,500 clinical and frontline professionals have been appointed in the last five years, more needs to be done to continue recruiting.

Discussing the government’s recent announcement to cap public sector pay awards at 1% for four more years, which some unions said will “hasten the reluctant exit of many dedicated staff” from hospitals, Stevens added that pay would need to remain competitive.

Following the recent budget announcement, Dr Peter Carter, chief executive & general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “The NHS is currently struggling to recruit enough nurses to provide safe and effective care, leading to costly, short term recruitment from overseas and the use of expensive agencies to provide nurses at short notice.

“The consequences of the Treasury’s pay decision will be serious for nurses and patients alike.”

Stevens said he had to remain apolitical, but did say that “ultimately the health service needs to pay the going rate relative to the private sector in order to recruit and retain the staff that we need”.

(Image of Simon Stevens: screengrab from


Angus   22/07/2015 at 12:05

It is clear that privatisation is high on the agenda for health care. TTIP will help with this too. Surely, Mr Hunt will be happier if appropriately senior doctors and nurse move exclusively to the private sector to perform elective work, thereby saving the NHS some expense, and newer consultants, who will have the 7-day working contract, work for the NHS? I feel we should support Mr Hunt in these ambitions. He will soon be the longest serving Health Secretary and his ideas should not be taken lightly.

Bill   22/07/2015 at 13:47

It is not just medical staff and clinical staff that work in the NHS. Recrutment of support services such as Estates is suffering due to the fact that for a large number of years the wages that these staff earn are not at the same level as outside staff. As a result some years ago a payment of £4K was given to these staff to aid recrutment and retention. about 4-5 years ago this was removed from their pay so they recieved a £4K pay cut. asd a result trying to fill vacant positions and keep existing staff is very difficult. The NHS can not survive with out its support staff and i include domestics porters catering staff etc in this as if they are not in post the service will fail

Kris   22/07/2015 at 15:13

This is rubbish NHS staff have excellent remuneration packages 6 months full pay if off sick the equivalent of 8 weeks paid Holiday after 10 years. May not be getting more than 1% over the next 4 years but this is more than private sector so I am not sure where this has all come from.

Kate   22/07/2015 at 16:00

Angus could you explain exactly how moving some elective work to private hospitals saves money exactly ?

Bill   22/07/2015 at 16:08

Kris the rate of pay is what i am talking about the remuniation package you talk about does not come into consideration until you have some service you do not get 6 months full pay from day 1 you get 6.5 weeks after 10 years you can not count bank holidays as every one gets these if you dont know what the rates of pay for a tradesman inside or outside the NHS are I can tell you inside tradesmen are pade considerably less than outside staff and also staff who work on the same site for PFI contractors whos remuneration is equal if not better than NHS

Dan   22/07/2015 at 17:59

GPs are already leaving in droves. Consultants will be next. NHS pay is pathetic compared with that in North America and the Antipodes. Younger doctors won't be replacing them as so many are leaving the NHS at an earlier stage when they can more easily relocate abroad as the NHS is seen to be such an incredibly poor employer. It seems that the government are believing their own press but doctors will simply vote with their feet. In fact they are already doing so.

Leslie Brissett   28/07/2015 at 09:25

The drive to change HOW staff work, the culture of NHS England, is as important as the remuneration packages. The Five Year Forward View sets out a challenge to us all to take part in a new type of conversation. One that involves partnership and co-production. have a look at NHS Citizen, an emerging vehicle for deliberative engagement about the future of the NHS.

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