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Use the election to put an end to the NHS pay cap

The 1% pay cap is not good enough, writes Jon Skewes

Back in March, the NHS Pay Review Body (NHSPRB) published their 30th Report calling for NHS staff to be paid a 1% uplift for 2017/18. The governments in England, Scotland and Wales accepted this recommendation.

The Royal College of Midwives is clear that 1% is not good enough. Midwives, maternity support workers, nurses and other NHS staff have now seen seven years of pay restraint with another three years on the horizon. This is a disastrous, unsustainable decision for the NHS.

Since 2010 the government has been imposing a cap on the recommendation that the public sector pay bodies, including the NHSPRB, can cope with it – first it was a pay freeze for two years, in 2011 and 2012, and since then there has been a 1% pay cap.

Below-inflation increases for the past seven years have caused midwives’ pay to drop in value by over £6,000 since 2010. March saw CPI inflation climb to 2.3% and RPI inflation climb to 3.2% and both are set to rise even further.

This is significantly above the 1% pay award, effectively resulting in a pay cut for midwives and other frontline clinical staff.

The general election on 8th June presents us with an opportunity to influence the government to change it’s policy on pay restraint.

Already, Labour has pledged to lift the policy of pay restraint and return the NHSPRB to making unfettered recommendations on pay.

We want to see all parties make this pledge and we will be working hard at national level to influence this.

We are also calling on midwives and maternity support workers to ask candidates locally about NHS pay restraint – by working together we hope to find a political solution to see the end of pay restraint in the NHS.

The RCM consistently argues that the NHS is reliant on midwives’, maternity support workers’ and all other NHS staff’s goodwill and we want the government to recognise that.

We want to use the opportunity of the election to influence the government to address the evidence that the RCM, and other NHS trade unions, put to the NHS Pay Review Body and show it understands the seriousness of the staffing crisis in the NHS and work to retain existing NHS staff in the service.

We want the government to show all NHS staff they are valued by giving them a fair pay rise in line with inflation.

We will be working hard at national level to influence the parties to end the policy of pay restraint but we also need the message to be repeated locally.

Please make sure you ask your local candidates about their position on NHS sector pay restraint. Together we can show that investment in NHS staff is an investment in high quality, safe care.

Jon Skewes is director for policy, employment relations and communications at the Royal College of Midwives