Pay Claim 2017

Strong public backing for NHS pay rise, poll shows

Thu 28 Sep 2017

There is overwhelming public support for removing the Government’s cap on NHS pay according to survey results released today by 14 NHS unions, including MiP. 

The poll of over 2,000 people by ComRes found 84% supported removing the cap on pay for NHS staff, while 83% supported increasing pay for all NHS staff to meet or exceed the cost of living (the Retail Price Index measure of inflation).

The RPI measure of inflation recently hit 3.9% per cent – it’s highest level for five-and-a-half years. In response, the NHS unions called for a 3.9% pay award to match rises in the cost of living. The unions are also calling for an additional £800 to restore some of the pay lost by NHS staff over the past seven years – a move backed by 69% of people in the ComRes poll.

MiP chief executive Jon Restell said: “The public backs the main planks of the unions’ pay claim. This is the same public that values and relies on the care provided by NHS staff. The public believe that the government should give the NHS extra funding to pay an inflation-proofing award of 3.9% and make up some of the loss caused by the pay cap.

“The public are also clear that pay is a cause of people leaving the NHS and young people not joining it. The ball is now in the government’s court. It must respond meaningfully to the pay claim, which the public are right behind,” Restell added.

The poll also showed was strong public support (73%) for making more funding available so the NHS Pay Review Body can recommend a pay award higher than 1% if the Government lift the pay cap. A majority of the public (77%) also thought that low pay was one of the reasons for many staff leaving the NHS, while 74% thought that low pay was also a factor in young people not choosing careers in the NHS.
Jon Skewes, director for employment relations and communications for the Royal College of Midwives, who commissioned the survey, said: “This clearly shows how much the public value our hard working midwives and other NHS staff.  This Government refuses to acknowledge that NHS staff have essentially had seven years of successive pay cuts, and it has also refuses to fund a fair pay award. What the Government need to understand is that  Investment in NHS staff is an investment in the service the NHS gives.  We need a change in policy to give NHS staff fair pay and it must be funded by Government.”
UNISON head of health, Sara Gorton, 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. People value and rely on the NHS so they understand that we cannot go on like this. They see the damage to staffing levels brought on by year after year of pay cuts.  Hard-pressed NHS staff from all disciplines goes above and beyond every day to keep services running – it’s time for the government to show it values them enough to invest in them.”

Unite head of health, Sarah Carpenter, said: “Unite knows how much the NHS is valued and respected, and the results of this survey prove that beyond a shadow of a doubt.  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.’
Royal College of Nursing director of member relations, Chris Cox, 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. Experienced nursing staff are leaving in droves - not because they don’t like the job, but because they can’t afford to stay, while the next generation do not see their future in an under-valued profession."

Society of Radiographers, industrial relations manager, Paul Moloney, said: “It is clear that the public fully recognise the need for Radiographers and everyone else employed in the NHS to have a fair pay increase. One that not only keeps pace with inflation but begins to make up what has been lost as a result of Government policy over the last 7 years. Government must now recognise the public as well as the unions are demanding they lift the cap, fund an increase for all in the NHS and start treating radiographers and their colleagues with respect.” 

Chartered Society of Physiotherapy assistant director of employment relations Peter Finch, said “Lifting the pay cap without ensuring adequate funding would be an empty gesture. The message from the public is clear, it’s time to ensure all NHS Staff are fairly rewarded for the critical work they do.”

GMB national officer for the NHS, Kevin Brandstatter said: "The finding of the ComRes survey are welcome and confirm the outcome of GMB polling earlier this year.  The public regard the NHS as the "Jewel in the Crown" of public services. Seven years of pay freeze and pay cap have cost GMB members thousands of pounds.  The public recognise that public service workers undertaking particularly traumatic roles, involving tragedies like the Grenfell Tower, deserve a significant pay rise.  Its time the Government recognised this too and fully funded the trade unions pay claim."

Notes to editors

  1. The survey by ComRes was commissioned by the Royal College of Midwives and funded by 14 NHS unions. The full survey results can be read on the ComRes website.
  2. The NHS unions are: British Association of Dietitians, British Association of Occupational Therapists, British and Irish Orthoptic Society, Chartered Society of Physiotherapists, Federation of Clinical Scientists, GMB, Managers in Partnership, POA (union for prison, correctional and secure psychiatric workers), Royal College of Midwives, Royal College of Nursing, Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists, Society of Radiographers, UNISON and Unite.
  3. The NHS pay review body was introduced in 1986. 
  4. ComRes interviewed 2,032 adults aged 18+ in Great Britain online between 15th and 17th September 2017. Data were weighted by age, gender, region and socio-economic grade to be representative of all GB adults aged 18+.

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