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NHS pay increase good but doesn’t go far enough, say recruiters

NHS pay increase good but doesn’t go far enough, say recruiters

18 Apr 10:00 by Recruiter Magazine

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While a pay increase for NHS staff is a “step in the right direction”, recruiters have raised concerns whether government’s move goes far enough to sufficiently tackle the service’s staffing crisis.

The BBC reports under the deal agreed with union leaders and ministers yesterday, more than 1m NHS staff including nurses, porters and paramedics are being offered pay increases of at least 6.5% over three years, with some getting as much as 29%.

The deal is tiered with the lowest-paid in each job receiving the biggest rise. Staff are being asked to vote on the deal, with rises backdated to April if they agree by the summer.

Commenting on the news, Olivia Spruce, chief operating officer at Positive Healthcare, told Recruiter the pay increase had been well overdue amid plummeting morale across the service.

“After the RCN [Royal College of Nursing] has claimed that the average real-time pay for nurses has actually dropped by 14% since 2010, and that over 33,000 nurses left the NHS in 2017, a pay increase has been a long time coming.

“Morale within the nursing sector has plummeted over the past several years and has created a much deeper staffing crisis by failing to address the original staffing crisis in the first place. This, therefore, is a step in the right direction. I am just glad that the government saw sense and abandoned its plans to force 1m NHS staff to give up a day’s holiday in exchange for a salary increase. Pre-conditions attached to long overdue pay increases will never positively affect morale. This is a step in the right direction.”

Meanwhile Paul McQue, managing director at MPA Recruitment, told Recruiter he sincerely hoped it brings back some much needed desirability for the NHS as an employer.

“Hopefully there are no ‘strings’ involved and that these increases are genuine increases for the 1.3m staff members concerned. In truth, I don’t think these measures will go far enough to address the chronic shortfall of nurses or the poor levels of pay for support staff but any increase after the pay cap has to be welcome news.

“A rise of 6.5% minimum in any sector is reasonable. I’m delighted to see the lower full-time salary end of the staffing scale receive a slightly higher increase of 15%, and the 21% rise for nurses is long overdue.

“In all it’s really encouraging to see the staff receive these lifts across all levels. We, as NHS recruitment framework partners, need to continue to play our part in addressing shortfalls and building the supplementary workforce.

“Now that salaries will be slightly higher this is welcome news for the staff at all levels and it’s always important to champion positive change, making staff enjoy this lift both financially and from a morale perspective.”

Meanwhile Greg Wood, director at Your World Recruitment Group, told Recruiter it’s positive to see that government finally starting to recognise and address the problem in retaining clinical workers across the NHS by proposing a meaningful pay rise. 

“However, this is only addressing one portion of an ongoing talent crisis, and other areas need equal focus. Attracting new recruits into training places and offering a better work-life balance is still crucial to healthcare workers, and can only be achieved by revisiting bursaries for healthcare students. 

“The NHS currently has no long-term strategy for retaining workers, which urgently needs to be addressed. Retention will come when workers feel truly valued for their dedication, even in adverse conditions.”