What the Chancellor said on NHS pay and how you can help

By Stuart Bonar, Public Affairs Advisor on 27 November 2020

As you may have seen in the news, last Wednesday the Chancellor Rishi Sunak set out how the Government in England expects to spend its budget over the next year. One thing he said that got a lot of attention was about pay in the NHS, including for midwives and MSWs.

For a lot of public sector workers (teachers, for example), there will be no pay rise next year. But the Chancellor confirmed that people who work in the NHS will get a pay rise.

It is important to say that the Government in London only decides these matters for staff who work in the public sector in England. Separate decisions will be made for staff in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland by ministers in Belfast, Cardiff and Edinburgh.

We have been campaigning to ensure that NHS staff across the UK get pay rises next year, so it is good news to see that confirmed. The Chancellor also said that there would be a pay rise for NHS staff generally, not just certain professions. Again, that is good news.

Additionally, the Government committed to following the normal NHS Pay Review Body (PRB) process. This is another positive. The PRB listens to what the Government has to say but it also makes its own independent recommendations. We believe this is the way it should work, with politicians taken out of the process as much as possible.

But we do have some concerns too about what the Chancellor said.

He made it sound like the Government will only ‘take into account’ what the PRB says. He did not commit to following their recommendations. But MPs bank the pay rise that their own pay review body recommends for them, so why shouldn’t the same apply for NHS staff?

It is also clear that he has not listened to calls to speed the process up. We want NHS staff to get an early pay rise. This would help the economy, for example, by putting money into people’s pockets now, with the economy in so much trouble. We will continue to push to get things moving.

He was also hazy on whether the pay rise will be funded with extra money from the Government, or whether NHS managers will have to try to find the money from their existing budgets. It needs to be extra money. The pay rise needs to be fully funded by the Government. That is clear, and we will continue to push for that.

So, some good news, but also some things we still need to push the Government on. And this is where you can help.

The RCM has created a dedicated webpage about pay and how you can help. There is also a joint unions webpage that is especially useful if you have friends or family who want to help but are not themselves NHS staff. We have produced a “how to” guide about writing to your MP (as well as MSPs in Scotland, MSs in Wales and MLAs in Northern Ireland). And you can watch this video of me on the RCM’s Facebook page talking you through how to do it too.

Please do contact the politicians who represent you. It is their job to listen. And let us know what they say. You can get in touch at [email protected]. Thank you.