The government has announced that it is scrapping the 7-year-long NHS pay cap in a major development for the NHS.
Jeremy Hunt, the Secretary of State for Health, has just confirmed that the cap has been abandoned after months of intense pressure on the government to improve the pay of NHS staff.
He argued that the cap ‘wasn’t sustainable’ and hoped the decision would lead to a ‘win-win’ situation for NHS staff and the government.
Mr Hunt, however, refused to say whether future pay awards will match or exceed the level of inflation, which is now at around 3%.
The news received a cautious welcome from unions and professional health bodies. Jon Skewes, from the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), said: ‘The RCM very much welcomes today’s announcement by the Secretary of State. However, this cannot be another empty promise by Jeremy Hunt. It is time to concede NHS Unions’ pay claim on behalf of midwives and all NHS workers and fund it properly.’
The Health Secretary gave no commitment to increase NHS funding along side removing the cap. Last month when a similar pay cap for police and prison officers was lifted, there was no accompanying increase in funding that meant that any increases in pay for staff would have to come out of the organisation’s own resources.
When questioned on how pay rises would be funded for the NHS, Hunt said that they would be ‘partly linked to productivity improvements,’ stoking fears that additional funding would not be provided.
Recently, a number of unions demanded that the government not only ‘scrap the cap’, but also give staff an £800 pay award to compensate them for years of declining wages.
According to Mr Skewes: ‘The Government must commit to fully funding a real terms pay increase for midwives and NHS staff. Anything less will fundamentally damage employment relations in the NHS and will worsen the already rock-bottom NHS morale.’ Previously, the Prime Minister, Theresa May, had signaled that there would be some ‘flexibility’ in terms of the pay given to NHS in the new budget in October. Mr Hunt has now taken this further in confirming an end to the cap.