Government whistles in the dark
The Government have tried to convince the NHS Pay Review Body that everything in the NHS is rosy, in a desperate attempt to avoid having to give us an improved pay rise for next year.
According to the Nuring Times, the Government "hit back" at claims of an NHS recruitment crisis, submitting evidence to the Pay Review Body saying that even though prices were rising faster than our wages, the NHS had increased the number of staff over the last year and that therefore "recruitment is buoyant".
Well, it might be, in the short term, as people are desperate to cling on to their jobs, even if their pay doesn't cover their bills, but we're also seeing increasing use of bank shifts - which help staff cover the shortfalls in their wages and goes some way to masking the true recruitment situation.
The unions have rightly argued that low pay in the NHS is storing up a recruitment crisis, and the PRB should take action now to stop it developing. The unions also made the essential and basic point that when the current three-year deal was negotiated, employers were arguing that inflation would fall to around 2%, and it has remained consistently double that - and above - for the whole of the first year of the deal. The three year deal is no longer fit for purpose, and since the assumptions that underpin it have been proved wrong, it should be amended.
And the Nursing Times' own graphic, using figures from the Office for National Statistics, shows that living expenses for nursing staff in various parts of the country have risen much faster than either our pay or even the official rate of inflation. The Pay Review Body has a moral obligation to respond to that fact, and prevent NHS staff falling further into poverty. The question is whether the PRB recognises that obligation. If it doesn't, what will the unions do?