Government delays leaves NHS members waiting for pay rise

Elaine Sparkes, CSP assistant director of employment relations and union services, expresses disappointment with April pay packets and lays out the latest timeline for NHS pay.

by sparkese

Our NHS members continue to wait to hear what pay award they will receive for 2024/25, despite it being due in your pay packets this month - with the health services’ financial year running April – March.

This is because the UK government was late submitting its remit letter to the pay review body (PRB) - which takes evidence from ministers, employers and trade unions before putting pay recommendations back to government.

Remits for Wales and Northern Ireland were similarly delayed. Anticipated direct negotiations with the Scottish government are also stalled.

Compounding those delays, the government only asked for the PRB to respond by May, after the local elections. It also sought to downplay the need for a reasonable pay rise in its letter.

This is a frustration for our NHS members - and their services. The delay comes as 39 per cent of physiotherapists working in the NHS report being very concerned about current staffing levels being sufficient to meet the needs of patients.   

It is likewise an issue for members working in the private sector, where many terms and conditions are in practice benchmarked against the NHS’s.

The government’s inability to commission the yearly report from the review body in a timely fashion shows how little value it places on ensuring NHS staff are paid fairly, and on time.

We now know the wider public feels these frustrations too. A March/April survey of 2,000 UK adults, conducted by Opinium for the CSP, found that 60 per cent of respondents saw the government’s approach to pay for NHS staff as incompetent. The result was the same across all age groups and every part of the UK.  

It is infuriating that ministers are so negligent at a time when staff are struggling and the NHS as a whole is going through a workforce crisis, and it’s clear that the public has noticed.  

So, what next? NHS staff are again waiting for a much-needed and overdue pay rise – last year, major pay concessions were only won through hard-fought industrial action by members.

However,  for 2024/25 the PRB process remains a viable route for setting pay - but only if the government stops placing undue influence on what should be an independent process.

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