What about maternity staff on the NHS PRB report?

By Jon Skewes, Executive Director of External Relations on 22 July 2020 Maternity Services NHS Pay Review Body Pay and Agenda For Change

You probably saw the announcement on Tuesday by the Chancellor of public sector pay increases. This covered doctors, police, teachers and others. You might have thought what about midwives and MSWs? The announcement only covered groups covered by the Pay Review Bodies (PRB), which made recommendations on pay for 2020. Agenda for Change (AfC) staff were subject to a PRB report for the same period but because of the negotiated three-year deal, that PRB only commented on the impact of the deal and issues relating to pay and workforce. For our members the third-year increases kicked in from 1 April 2020.

The announcement for other groups in the public sector caused confusion. We have recently called on UK governments to negotiate a new pay increase for all NHS AfC staff, including midwives and MSWs. That increase should, we have said, be implemented before the due date of April 2021 and should be substantial. Our aim is to restore the real value of pay in large part, building further on the gains of the last deal.

It’s become really complicated to understand how public sector pay works these days. It used to be that most years there would be announcements from the PRBs each year. The Government introduced pay policies from 2010 to limit their ability to recommend unfettered awards. This led to successive nil or 1% awards undermining the real value of pay. On two occasions, we and other health unions have negotiated long term deals approved by members, which improve the pay structure for all non-medic NHS staff improved and tied in pay increases – the first was the original AfC agreement.

The second was the recent three year deal, which reformed AfC extensively. This period when our members broke out of the austerity pay policy had its last year increases and structural changes to pay in April 2020. It was a start of restoring the real value of pay and its outcomes affected members differently. The recently announced increases for some public sector groups were announced late for the same period. They are therefore not good comparisons or guides to future NHS increases.

In Scotland, health unions have tried to reopen the third year of the three year deal and were refused. We face a government in England with an 80 seat majority, already talking about further public sector austerity. This was slipped out alongside the ‘good news’ on pay for some. In that scenario it makes sense to be clear in our demands. We didn’t start that process this week but a month ago writing to ministers and holding talks to explain our expectations on your behalf.

We want NHS workers to be leading public sector pay not following. So, we call on the Chancellor to address that and for negotiations or the PRB to lead to a substantial settlement for all. It’s time to value the contribution of our members.