More than 4 in 5 people support lifting the pay cap that has seen NHS staff’s wages stagnate over the past 7 years.
A recent survey by ComRes, funded by 14 unions that represent NHS staff, has found that 84% of the public support scrapping the pay cap.
Sara Gorton, head of health at UNISON, said: ‘This poll shows that the government needs to stop the excuses and start listening to public opinion. Just talking about selectively lifting the pay cap isn’t good enough – the government must provide funding for the fair pay award the public wants to see.’
The survey, of over 2000 people, also found that an equal amount of people (83%) support the idea of raising pay for all NHS staff to meet or surpass the cost of living in terms of inflation (RPI). In addition, 69% supported the paying of an additional £800 on top of a pay increase to compensate NHS staff for 7 years of austerity. This was recently demanded by UNISON and 13 other unions as they seek to put pressure on the government to change their position in relation to public sector pay.
Today, the RCN has warned the government that it will start balloting its members on industrial action if the cap is not lifted in this November’s budget. Chris Cox, director of member relations at RCN, said: ‘This makes it clear how much Ministers are out of touch with public opinion, which supports our campaign. They should listen to what the public are telling them, scrap the pay cap and help to recruit thousands more nurses for a safer NHS.’
3 in 4 (73%) people also agreed that more funding should be made available so that the NHS Pay Review Board could potentially recommend a higher pay award than the 1% if the government does decide to lift the cap. Kevin Brandstatter, national office for the NHS of the union GMB, argued that the public admiration of the NHS and those who work for it was increasingly clear. He said: ‘The public regard the NHS as the "Jewel in the Crown" of public services.
The public recognise that public service workers undertaking particularly traumatic roles, involving tragedies like the Grenfell Tower, deserve a significant pay rise.’
The survey also revealed that the vast majority of the public believe that the low of pay and inadequate funding has led to the high rates of people leaving the profession (77%) and a similar number (74%) felt that low pay was also preventing young people from entering work in the NHS.
Sarah Carpenter, Unite head of health, said: We need a fully funded NHS, and our NHS staff need a fully funded, decent pay rise. How long will it take for this government to take responsibility for the mess it has created and start to put it right? It’s about respect – for staff, for patients, for people – and so far we have seen none.’