Employers claim NHS pay threatens quality
Wednesday, 21 September 2011
Even though the Government has imposed a two-year pay freeze on all NHS staff, NHS employers claim they still face an overall rise in the cost of pay that will make it increasingly difficult to maintain quality and workforce numbers.
The NHS Employers organisation has now submitted its evidence to the NHS Pay Review Body for the 2012/13 pay round. It says employers are worried that their efforts to preserve both quality and personnel numbers – while at the same time facing pressure to make efficiency savings – are being undermined by a 2.4% increase in the pay bill, despite the pay freeze.
The report says that annual pay increments of 2.0% made to nurses, administrators and other non-medical NHS staff under Agenda for Change, combined with the £250 that the Government recommends should be awarded to staff earning less than £21,000, amount to an overall increase in the pay bill of 2.4% – which, it says, will make it hard for employers to avoid job losses and guarantee high-quality patient care.
NHS Employers claim that the additional £250 uplift is unnecessary, because staff earning £21,000 will already gain £355-£683 simply from the 2.0% increment. In any case, it adds: “There are no particular labour market issues affecting this group of the workforce. NHS pay rates for this group remain competitive with other sectors.”
Dean Royles, director of the NHS Employers organisation, said: “All NHS organisations are facing up to some difficult decisions as they seek to deliver efficiencies on an unprecedented scale of up to £20bn by 2014/15. The pay bill for health trusts is often nearly 70% of their budget and even during the Government’s pay freeze there is an upward pressure on their pay bill costs of 2.4%.
“Tight control of staff costs will be necessary if the service is to minimise potential job losses and ensure patients continue to have access to high quality services.
“Employers are very concerned about the cost of the pay bill. As the NHS Employers organisation we are keen to continue discussions with trade unions on the NHS Staff Council about the scope for negotiated changes to the national pay agreements to make them more affordable and flexible.
“We also believe it is essential that local employers have meaningful discussions with local trade unions and staff about the workforce implications of the financial challenges for their organisations.”