An urgent retention package with pay at its heart

The CSP lays out what needs to happen with NHS pay in 2022

Pay and Conditions
Pay and Conditions

Urgent action is needed to stem the tide of staff leaving the health service. It is not enough to recruit new staff, action must be taken to retain existing staff.

This is the view of the CSP in our evidence to the independent pay review body (PRB), where we joined with all the healthcare trade unions to call for a pay increase that recognises and rewards the skills and value of health workers.  

A retention package is particularly important for physiotherapy staff. 

The rate at which physiotherapy staff leave the NHS increased throughout 2021, and now surpasses both the average leaver rates for all allied health professions, and for nursing and midwifery staff.

What’s needed

With inflation topping five per cent and rising, and expected increases in national insurance rates from 1 April it has never been more important for the government to deliver a significant pay rise.

It is the CSP’s view that the 2022/23 pay award must:

  • deliver an inflation-busting increase so that NHS staff can cope with rising prices, which may change significantly over the pay year
  • absorb the impact from potential increases in member contributions to the NHS pension scheme
  • offer the real living wage to all NHS employees

As the value of NHS wages has been held back over a long period of time, the CSP is seeking a commitment that the 2022-23 pay rise will be a significant ‘downpayment’ as part of a pay restoration programme.  

Additional measures to support retention

In addition to a decent pay rise that supports both retention and recruitment, the healthcare trade unions have called for measures to address overwork and staff burnout.

Jill Taylor, chair of the CSP employment committee, explains: ‘We need immediate action to prevent staff burnout. If this is delayed or denied, exhausted physiotherapy staff will vote with their feet.’

The health unions are therefore together calling on governments to make use full use of the NHS Contract to:

  1. ensure all Agenda for Change bands reflect job content
  2. prevent burnout by limiting excess hours, while paying a fair rate for all additional hours
  3. support progression and career development
  4. encourage employers to use local arrangements where staff shortages are a particular risk to staff wellbeing

Time is now of the essence 

NHS pay is usually set through a PRB process, which takes evidence from trade unions, NHS employers and the Department of Health and Social Care on behalf of the government, before making final recommendations to government – which then decides on the pay award for the year.

However, in its 2022/23 remit to the PRB, the UK government has not even requested recommendations about NHS pay in England from the PRB to be given until May 2022 – and even then failed to submit its own evidence in time for the PRB’s requested deadline back in January 2022.  

NHS staff in Wales and Northern Ireland will likely also have their pay settled through a PRB process, run on a later timetable as budgeting decisions generally delay their governments from issuing remit letters to the PRB until after Westminster. 

The CSP expects pay in Scotland to be settled between direct negotiations between the Scottish government and trade unions.

This makes it all but certain that the NHS workforce will receive no pay rise at the start of the financial year on 1 April. All the while rising prices, national insurance and pension contributions will likely cut CSP member’s take home pay.

Next steps

Government action is needed now. The CSP called on the government to recognise this urgency, and begin talks on a retention package before waiting for the PRB to develop full recommendations. 

However if the government continues with the already delayed PRB process we will be scrutinising their recommendations - and government’s response – to see if it is likely to deliver the health unions’ jointly-agreed expectations. 

As we wait to see the government response we will be working with all the health unions on our shared position to keep pay and retention high on the agenda. This may include cross union campaigning and organising both nationally and locally.

Talk to your CSP stewards and keep up to date on our website pay pages on titled 'Pay and conditions'

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