Plymouth may be facing a potential strike by its health workers who have been denied a 1% pay rise. This percentage is way below the current inflation rate.
Nurses, along with other NHS workers, yesterday warned that they intend challenging the Government’s decision on public sector pay levels.
In excess of one million workers in the public sector are set for a 1% pay increase during 2014-2015. However, more than 50% of the NHS staff, including 70% of nurses, are on a ‘progression pay increase’ system, thus do not qualify for this 1% increase. Unions have accused the Prime Minister of attacking the public sector workers directly.
The Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has stated that the cap is a means of protection for thousands of nursing jobs across the country. NHS staff that have been on a particular pay grade for a set amount of time will be entitled to a pay rise which would typically be above 3%. They will receive that particular increase, but they will not be given the cost of living increase which is being paid to their colleagues.
The Chief Executive and General Secretary of the RCN, Dr Peter Carter, has said that the suggestion that the incremental pay is the same as that of the pay increase, or that staff are being rewarded for time served indicates a complete misunderstanding of how the pay system of the NHS works.
He stated that incremental pay is used in both the public and the private sector and is only given to NHS staff who can demonstrate a development in their skill level.
Dr Carter continued to say that the NHS does not have the liberty to continue a policy whereby loyal, hardworking staff are treated with contempt, particularly during this time when morale is so low. Trusts across the country are experiencing a struggle in the retention and recruitment of sufficient nurses to maintain adequate staffing levels.
The Government has stated that the overall policy would save in excess of £200 million during 2014-2015 and at least double that amount during 2015-2016 and these funds will be reinvested into the health sector.