Unions and GP leaders are outraged by government plans to raise the pay of NHS staff by just 1%, ignoring inflation.
The Doctors and Dentists Remuneration Board (DDRB) called for NHS staff to be given a 1% rise to account for inflation on top of automatic increments given for job progression.
Instead, the government will ensure that all staff get a 1% pay rise next year, however staff who receive job progression increases will not get the 1% increase as well.
This change will affect close to 600,000 nurses and other staff working in the NHS.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said that fully taking on the DDRB’s recommendations would be “unaffordable and would risk the quality of patient care”.
He said: “Our priority must be to ensure that the NHS can afford to employ the right number of frontline staff needed to ensure the safe, effective and compassionate care that patients have a right to expect.
“The DDRB proposals suggest a pay rise that would risk reductions in frontline staff that could lead to unsafe patient care. It is not possible to maintain appropriate numbers of frontline staff, give a general pay rise of 1% and pay for incremental progression.”
There will be a 1% increase to GP incomes, which the government believes will equate to a 0.28% uplift in the value of the general medical services contract payments for 2014/15.
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chair of the British Medical Association General Practitioners’ Committee, said the decision is a “kick in the teeth” for GPs.
He said: “It beggars belief to suggest that an 0.28% uplift in the GP contract will translate into a 1% increase in GP pay at a time when expenses are projected to continue to accelerate. This decision fails to recognise the expanding role and workload in general practice that shows no signs of abating.
“It will inevitably result in yet another pay cut. To add insult to injury, this decision comes on the back of several years of effective pay cuts. GPs will justifiably feel they are being unfairly treated as well as devalued. This settlement will also be a blow to patient services as it will effectively reduce resources for GP practices and frontline services.”
Unions are currently consulting with their members over strikes.
Rachael Maskell, Unite’s head of health said that 2,400 top NHS bosses are earning more than the Prime Minister, David Cameron, while nurses, health visitors and paramedics are “treated with contempt”.
She said: “[Hunt] is deliberately muddying the waters by trying to imply that the annual increment that staff receive, as they gain more skills to benefit patients throughout their careers, is part of the annual pay increase – it is not. It is despicable that Hunt has adopted such an underhand tactic.”
GMB, the union for NHS staff said the government are attacking not only living standards but also the agreed way pay is set in the NHS which makes a ballot for industrial action all the more likely.