Commenting on the government issuing of remits to the pay review bodies today (Wednesday), which effectively start the NHS pay setting process for next year, UNISON acting head of health Helga Pile said:
“The government is in danger of ignoring the lessons from last winter’s NHS dispute.
“In the summer of last year, health unions had called for pay talks as the only way to avoid industrial action. Ministers refused, so strikes took place across the NHS.
“By issuing the pay review body remit letters so late in the day, the government has once again failed to plan ahead. NHS staff now won’t get the wage increase they’re due in April on time.
“But improving wages across the health service is key to solving the staffing crisis affecting every part of the NHS.
“The deal to resolve the recent dispute included a government commitment to review the failing process for setting pay.
“Falling back on the same discredited system won’t give staff confidence that ministers are taking any of the huge problems affecting the NHS seriously.
“There simply isn’t time to allow the long-winded pay review body process to run its course, especially when everyone knows ministers are calling the shots.
“Victoria Atkins must do the right thing for NHS staff and patients by holding proper pay talks early in the new year. Otherwise, there’s a risk of a repeat of the disruption that affected so much of the NHS last winter.
“As a matter of urgency, the government must deliver the funding to cover this year’s pay rise in Northern Ireland. Then struggling health workers there can catch up and further strikes can be avoided.”