Hospital Dr News

End of 1% pay cap signaled by government for 2018-2019 pay round

A new public sector pay deal has paved the way for the removal of the 1% pay cap restricting NHS staff wages.

The government announced that police and prison officers would receive pay rises over 1% in 2017-18, with other sectors likely to follow next year.

Inflation in August jumped to 2.9%.

NHS staff could receive better pay rises in 2018-19 after the government said it is ready to show “flexibility” in that public sector pay round.

NHS representatives, however, are warning that it is too little too late.

Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: “The health and care workforce is one of the biggest issues facing the NHS, and indeed the country. In some places we simply cannot recruit the staff we need and this is beginning to have a real impact on patient safety.

“While it is clear the ability to restrain pay without impacting on recruitment or retention is now over, and while we agree the public sector pay cap should be lifted, the worst thing the government could do is expect local NHS organisations to pick up the additional costs. It’s vital the Government commits to meeting the costs of doing so with additional NHS funding.”

NHS staff had their pay frozen for two years in 2012, and wage increases have been subject to a 1% cap ever since.

Dickson added: “All the signs are that NHS trusts will certainly struggle this winter. Last year the NHS managed incredibly well but we cannot continue just to rely on a hope that viruses will not wreak havoc, that the weather will be clement and that staff commitment will get us through.

“Pay rises are key but also additional funding to meet rising demand.”

A government spokesman said a cabinet meeting on Tuesday had approved a recommendation from the independent pay review body for prison officers that they receive an average 1.7% increase, backdated to April.

Ministers also agreed a recommendation for police to get the standard 1% pay rise with an extra, one-off 1% sum added for the next 12 months, beginning immediately.

The Prime Minister Theresa May suffered a embarrassment in the House of Commons after the Democratic Unionist party backed a Labour motion in favour of raising NHS pay.

Labour’s motion passed without being pushed to a vote after it became clear the government had no majority to oppose the call for an end to the public sector pay cap for NHS workers.

The motion fell outside the Tory-DUP deal as it was not binding, but its passage was nevertheless a symbolic victory for Labour and a sign there is no longer a majority in the Commons for many of the austerity policies introduced by the Conservatives.

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