This week the government have finally announced the pay award for NHS staff. It comes a full 109 days after it was due. And well short of what was needed.
A missed chance to save the NHS
Ministers have missed a chance to invest in the future, and start to turn the NHS around. They’ve shown they’re prepared to sit by and watch while backlogs, delays and patient suffering increase. People know who is responsible – in our poll* 84% agreed that the government should be doing more to stop health staff leaving the NHS, and that without their action on NHS staffing, waiting lists will grow and delays lengthen.
Against the public mood
With all staff being offered a below-inflation award, health workers are being asked to accept another cut to the real value of their take home pay. The low offer goes against the public mood – in our latest poll a clear majority of UK adults (55%) said health workers’ wages should increase by at least 9%, while only one in seven (14%) thought a rise of up to 5% would be fair.
Support for strikes
Government ministers would also do well to note that large numbers will stand behind NHS staff if they take strike action. Almost three in five (58%) UK adults said health workers would be justified in taking industrial action if there is a below-inflation pay award. Just 29% said that strike action wouldn’t be justified in this event.
Pay is critical for retention and patient care
UK voters recognise that proper pay is crucial to avoid worsening the staffing crisis and causing further declines in standards of care. More than four in five (85%) agree that decent pay is essential for health workers to stay in the NHS and patient care to improve.
Demoralised staff will consider their future
Health unions will consult their members over the coming weeks as they decide how to respond to the outcome. Most will be demoralised and bitterly disappointed. The last thing the country wants is to see the government stumble into a dispute with healthcare staff who have done so much through the pandemic and beyond. Yet the greatest risk is that even more of our dedicated, skilled NHS workforce vote with their feet, and quit for better-paid and less stressful jobs elsewhere.
Keep voicing your support
If you’re #WithNHSStaff for fair pay, keep sharing your support on social media, and tell your MP that the government needs to do better to reward the extraordinary efforts of our health team. Use the tools on our Take Action page to help us keep up the pressure on ministers to rethink before it is too late.
*The poll was carried out by Savanta ComRes who surveyed 2,073 UK adults between 1 and 3 July 2022. Full tables are available here.