Anger and confusion as ‘complex’ NHS pay deal disappoints staff

This article was taken from:

By Michael Savage

Workers across service complain they have not had promised wage rises and GMB calls for talks to be reopened

Some NHS staff have been angered by the recent pay deal for more than a million workers, complaining that they are not receiving the increases they had been promised.

One union has been forced to apologise and hold an emergency meeting after admitting to misleading members over the deal, and some NHS staff are complaining that they are either seeing a tiny increase in their pay packets or a fall.

It has led to calls from some workers for the pay talks to be reopened – a call supported by the GMB, one of Britain’s biggest unions. Nurses, pharmacy workers and security staff are among those to have made complaints.

However, most unions are sticking by the deal. They believe that the complexity of the agreement, which included an overhaul of the NHS’s pay structure, has led to confusion among staff about their pay increases and when they would receive them.

There is anger within the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) after its general secretary, Janet Davies, admitted it had wrongly told members that they would all be in line for an immediate 3% pay increase this year. In fact, only certain workers at the top of their pay band will receive an immediate 3% increase, but senior government and union officials insist that other workers are in line for even bigger increases over the course of the three-year deal.

Emergency care workers, paramedics, nurses and pharmacy technicians said they had only seen marginal increases or even falls in income. Peter Pheasey, an emergency care assistant in Dorset, said he believed he was hundreds of pounds worse off. “I’m furious about it,” he said. “Some workers have been hung out to dry. It is at the point where we cannot afford to live.”

Bryan Robson, a 44-year-old NHS security worker, said that he had been left with a “massive disappointment” when he opened his new pay slip. “I got next to nothing – maybe an extra £20 a month,” he said. “With interest rates going up and pensions going up, it’s pretty pointless. It just feels as if you are undervalued by the government for the job we do.”

Sam Coombes, a pharmacy technician in Worthing, said that he had seen a huge real-terms pay cut over the last seven years. “When I had my first pay slip including the pay deal, it was pretty much what I expected – next to no increase at all. A lot of people weren’t expecting that – they’d heard they would be getting big increases.”

Union officials pointed out that, under any system, workers pushed into new tax and pension rates would always be hit, irrespective of the pay deal.

Rachel Harrison, GMB national officer for the NHS, said: “Up and down the country, NHS staff have opened their pay cheques and realised it’s not the pay rise they thought they were going to get. And they are angry. GMB is urging the government to get back around the table and commit to the proper pay rise our dedicated NHS workers deserve.”

Unison assistant general secretary Christina McAnea said: “The pay deal was indeed complex, but it appears that the RCN general secretary had neither read nor understood the offer. It’s unfortunate that one person’s seeming lack of understanding has unleashed such an unhelpful and completely unnecessary wave of confusion for NHS staff.”

The RCN said: “We apologise for suggesting that all of our members will get 3% immediately. By the end of March next year, however, everybody’s salary will have increased by a minimum of 3% compared to a year earlier.”

Whitehall officials suggested there was no prospect of reopening the talks. Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers, said: “The deal was agreed with and significantly endorsed by all but one trade union, and while the RCN is responding to some concerns regarding its own communications, the work with trade unions is now focused on moving forwards with the implementation of the agreed deal.”

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