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‘Pay freeze has not affected staff morale’

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Alistair Burt, the minister for community and soci Alistair Burt, the minister for community and social care

The freeze on pay for NHS staff has not affected their morale, according to Alistair Burt, the minister for community and social care.

Responding to a written question from Louise Haigh, MP for Sheffield Heeley, on whether the Department of Health plans to assess the impact of the cap on pay for NHS staff, Mr Burt said: ‘There is no evidence that the pay freeze affected staff morale.’

He cited the NHS Staff Survey, saying that although it does not directly measure staff morale, the survey found that ‘staff engagement, which includes staff motivation at work, staff recommending their trust as a place to work or receive treatment, and the percentage of staff able to contribute towards improvements at work, has remained high with a score of 3.76/5 in 2014, rising from 3.68/5 in 2012.’

This statement has been criticised by Janet Davies, chief executive of the RCN, who said that it bears ‘little relation to what we are hearing on the frontline or what the NHS’ own staff survey revealed.‘

She quoted the RCN’s own pay consultation survey from 2014, which found that 96% of nursing staff felt undervalued and underappreciated, with a further 66% saying the Government’s decisions on pay made them think seriously about leaving the NHS. She also cited the NHS Staff survey, which showed that 59% of staff feel that the NHS does not value their work.

Ms Davies said: ‘Nursing staff are repeatedly making their feelings very clear about just how undervalued and underappreciated they are feeling. But it would appear that this is falling on deaf ears. The Government must start taking the concerns of NHS staff seriously, by valuing the important work they are doing and giving them a decent wage. Five years of pay freezes would affect anyone’s morale and to ignore this risks further alienating the very people who are essential to the NHS’ future and good quality patient care.’

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