The NHS staff pay rise will put further unnecessary financial pressure on the health service

Dean Royles

14 / 3 / 2013 Midnight

Today's announcement that NHS staff pay will rise by one per cent from April will seriously concern hospitals and other NHS employers, says Dean Royles.

Dean Royles, chief executive of the NHS Employers organisation, said:

"I understand why the Government chose to accept the PRB recommendation for a pay increase after two years of headline pay freeze, but I am still deeply perplexed that the independent pay review bodies have recommended any increase at all.

"We gave compelling evidence to the pay review bodies on pay levels, staff turnover and improvements in job satisfaction, arguing that a pay increase this year wasn't necessary and would add additional cost pressures to NHS trusts in what we know will be an extremely challenging year.

"Most NHS staff are already set to receive incremental pay increases averaging more than three per cent as they climb up through their pay bands, and they will still receive these as well as the additional salary rise announced by the Government today.

"This pay increase of one per cent for all NHS staff will add in the region of £500 million to NHS annual expenditure. This is the equivalent of around 15,000 new nurses.

"I fully recognise that some staff are anxious about their income, and employers want to do everything they can to support them and build morale. But employers' biggest priorities are maintaining and improving quality patient care and staff job security, both of which depend on sustainable pay bills."

The following are key points from the NHS Employers organisation's submissions to the NHS Pay Review Body and the Doctors and Dentists Review Body, who make recommendations to the Government on pay for nurses, doctors, administrators, non-very-senior managers and other key staff groups:

  • Increasing the pay rates for nurses, doctors, administrators and other staff now could harm patient care and put jobs at risk. 
  • The NHS Employers organisation does not recommend a pay rise for staff this year. 
  • The two year pay freeze has not frozen earnings for most staff in the NHS. Sixty per cent of all nurses, administrators and some other staff groups will be receiving increments equivalent to an average salary increase of 3.4 per cent next year, rising to 6.7 per cent in some cases. 
  • Individual doctors have continued to enjoy pay progression as they move through training and up incremental steps. On average these increments result in an individual salary increase for doctors of between 3 and 8 per cent per year. 
  • There is no evidence that any increase in the national scales is necessary to support the recruitment, retention or motivation of staff. Recruitment and retention is generally stable across the country in the NHS. 
  • The NHS reward package remains highly competitive and is a valuable recruitment and retention tool. The lowest NHS pay rates remain competitive in the labour market and are significantly above the national minimum wage. 
  • Agreements between employers and unions, via the NHS Staff Council, are providing employers with greater local flexibility and help pay arrangements to be better aligned to high quality performance and productivity and to be more responsive to local needs. 

The full NHS Employers submissions to the pay review bodies are available here and here.

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