MiP and 15 other NHS unions have joined forces to urge the prime minister to put an end to the public sector pay freeze and signal a change of direction in her government’s attitude to the NHS.
In the unprecedented joint letter, sent on 19 June, leaders of unions representing all types of NHS staff pointed out that Theresa May has herself admitted that the pay freeze and a lack of public sector investment in the public sector was a significant factor in the government’s general election setback.
On the day the Brexit negotiations finally kicked off in Brussels, the unions also pressed the prime minister to end the uncertainty hanging over NHS staff from other EU countries and to prioritise patient safety by guaranteeing safe staffing across the NHS.
“People who are working in the NHS are delivering care to the best of their ability but we are very worried that care is becoming unsafe. Our services are struggling to make do without the staff they need,” said the letter.
It continued: “The Public Sector Pay Cap has forced professionals out of jobs they love. Those who stay are overstretched and under pressure to do ever more with less. The longstanding cap stands in the way of recruiting and retaining the best in health care. It is having a profound and detrimental effect on standards of care for people at a time when the NHS is short of staff across every discipline.”
The union’s joint plea was reported by the Guardian, the Daily Express, Sky News, Personnel Today and PoliticsHome, among others, and was widely discussed on social media using the hashtags #NHSPay and #scrapthecap. A Labour amendment to the Queen’s Speech calling for an end to the pay cap across the public sector was narrowly defeated in the Commons on 28 June.
MiP chief executive Jon Restell, one of the signatories of the letter, said: “When unions, employers, think tanks and even some Tory MPs say that NHS staff need a pay rise, the government really needs to see what everyone else can – that its pay policy is at a dead end.”