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NHS staff feeling the pay squeeze, reports NHS Providers

Published on 08/05/17 at 10:07am

NHS Providers, the membership organisation and trade association for the NHS, has laid a stark warning at the door of the government in regards to staff pay. The organisation reported that the move to limit pay increases to 1% per year until 2020 had severely damaged morale and had led to recruitment difficulties.

Perhaps the most eye-catching suggestion made by the organisation was that lower-paid staff were leaving the organisation to work in supermarkets, due to the high stress and low pay of working within the NHS. The organisation has called on the government to scrap the commitment to 1% pay increases in order to make the NHS more competitive in terms of recruitment and in holding onto staff.

The move comes ahead of the general election, which will be held exactly a month from today. The aim being to put pressure on the current government to improve conditions for workers, as the service struggles with staff shortages.

The chief executive of NHS Providers, Chris Hopson said: “Workforce concerns are now the number one NHS priority. Growing problems of recruitment and retention are making it harder for trusts to ensure patient safety. Unsustainable staffing gaps are quickly opening up in hospitals, mental health and community trusts and ambulance services.

“Years of pay restraint and stressful working conditions are taking their toll. Pay is becoming uncompetitive. Significant numbers of trusts say lower paid staff are leaving to stack shelves in supermarkets rather than carry on working in the NHS. And we are getting consistent reports of retention problems because of working pressures in the health service causing stress and burnout.”

Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, countered the claims by pointing out that the average pay for nurses is £31,000 and that minimum pay was £22,000, rising to £27,000 in London. The report had actually suggested that it was lower-paid staff, as opposed to nurses in particular, that were leaving the service due to pay levels.

The paper, by NHS Providers, suggests increasing funding to the NHS, as well as more investment in social care and more support to be ensured for mental health services. The report noted that staff levels within mental health are so low that patients are experiencing delays receiving treatment and with worse patient experience.

Ben Hargreaves

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