Commenting today on the decision by the government to refuse to pay the promised 1% wage increase for nurses and NHS workers, Mike O’Brien, who is a former health minister said,
“Nurses and NHS workers will feel really let down by the Conservatives. They have broken the promise given by George Osborne that they would get a 1% increase. NHS staff have seen pay cut after pay cut for years and they have seen the privatisation ideology run rampant. Now most nurses and NHS staff at hospitals such as the George Eliot Hospital have been told by the Tories that they are not worth a 1% pay rise. It’s wrong for nurses to be singled out this way for more pain. Prices have gone up whilst many nurses have got poorer.
“There needs to be pay restraint in the public sector in these tough economic times, but it is wrong to promise low paid staff a rise and then swipe it away just before they were due to get it.
“The government has just implemented an unannounced, unneeded, top-down reorganisation of the NHS which cost £3 billion. Half of that, £1.5B was spent on redundancy payments to managers, many of whom are now being reemployed elsewhere in the service or in one of the private companies that has taken over parts of the NHS. This has led to 2,400 health managers now being paid more than the Prime Minister. The NHS has been left in a weakened financial position.
“The government should have met the commitment given by George Osborne. Labour could have afforded to give that 1% pay rise because we would not have wasted £3 billion on the top-down reorganisation. The nurses deserve the promised pay rise.”
The government have announced a wage award package for the public sector of 1%. Inflation is running at 2%, which means that public sector workers will take another 1% pay cut. However, ministers have decided to withhold the rise from 600,000 health workers who receive “progression pay increase” to reflect growing experience. Ministers also confirmed that around 400 senior NHS managers will not receive any pay rise.
30% of nurses and midwives and 40% of NHS staff don’t get a progression payment and health unions have sought clarification about whether theses staff will get 1%.
Ministers estimated that withholding the 1% from NHS staff will save government health budgets £200m in 2014-15 and £400m in 2015-16.