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NHS staff angered by pay freeze threat
“ANGRY and undervalued.”
That is how NHS staff in Southampton have been left feeling after the Government announced it wanted to halt their one per cent pay rise.
Unions have criticised the proposal as “disgusting” and have warned that the anger among members is so strong that industrial action cannot be ruled out.
The warning comes after the Department of Health revealed that the planned increase was “unaffordable” alongside the current system which sees many staff automatically receive incremental annual rises and urged the NHS pay review body to withhold the rise.
But Andy Straker, regional organiser for Unison, branded the move “disgusting” and warned that, with so many staff already feeling the strain, this could be one step too far.
Members were already angered that the pay rise was only one per cent, so this “attack”, as he calls it, will only sink morale even further and put the quality of the NHS at risk.
Mr Straker said: “It is a bit of a joke and Iamnot quite surewhat it does to the quality of the NHS.
“This will make staff feel even worse than they are already feeling, depressed, and undervalued.
“We keep hearing that the NHS is not facing cutbacks under this Government but these actions speak louder than their words.”
The Department of Health said it would use the funding intended for the pay rise to “modernise”
Currently, according to the department, automatic increments linked to length of service and satisfactory performance add £900m to salary costs.
But they stressed that no decisions on changes to pay have been taken, insisting independent bodies will make their recommendations early next year.
A Department of Health spokeswoman said: “Many NHS staff have continued to receive pay rises of up to 3.5 per cent and we want to keep working with the trade unions and employers on affordable pay.
“The measures we are proposing will help increase quality for patients and help us realise our vision of an affordable seven-day service.”
Unite will now enter talks with the NHS at a national level to find out if this freeze will go ahead, while members locally will be consulted on what action to take if it gets the green light.
When asked whether this could result in industrial action, Mr Straker added: “Nothing will be ruled out at this stage. I have no doubt that there will be enough anger there for industrial action but whether our members want to do that will be up to them.
“Our members were angered that they were only being offered a one per cent pay rise as they are struggling with their jobs, the cutbacks and struggling to provide a service that people want and that patients deserve.
“To attack them in this way is disgusting. Why would staff want to continue going that extra mile?”
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