NHS Pay: Something Or Nothing?

In an unscheduled statement in the House of Commons on Tuesday, Secretary of State Jeremy Hunt responded to questions about NHS pay by clarifying that the pay cap had gone. He proffered a ‘win-win’ arrangement where additional pay would be considered in return for increased productivity.

So is this something or nothing? Any Department of Health footwork that helps pick the Treasury’s padlock on the coffers for better NHS funding is to be welcomed. And anything that helps to ring fence new money for pay, doubly so.

But there’s a long way to go before the party poppers come out.

Jeremy Hunt’s answer was delivered as a statement of fact, yet committed no funds. He has scrapped the pay cap but not given a single penny to any health worker. Anyone who labels this week’s statement a victory may wish to remind themselves that we are a long way from the 1 April pay deadline in what can generously be described as uncertain political times. The real test of whether the cap has been lifted will be when NHS staff open their first wage slip after the pay round.

The health secretary’s language also suggests that a focus on shortages and retention problems will dominate the next pay review body round. In other words, a settlement that attempts to put right in one year the impact of six years of pay freeze on the workforce. Let me be clear, it can’t be done.

There are dangers in directing any available cash at shortages and cherry-picking specific job groups or specialities. The NHS pay system has built-in mechanisms to deal with these issues. These mechanisms have been unused because the pay system has been starved of funds, not because it doesn’t work. Another danger is an unhealthy competition between the varied health …read more

Source:: The Huffington Post – UK politics

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