NHS staff must suffer real terms pay cut say Treasury

The chancellor’s spring statement, as feared, lacked any commitment to extra funding to enable an above-inflation increase in pay for hard-pressed NHS staff whose pay has suffered a decade of decline. 

The ministers and the Department of Health and Social Care hinted in February that any increase above 3% for NHS staff could lead to operations being cancelled, so tight is the cash squeeze imposed by Rishi Sunak.

Government statements after the spring budget have also emphasised the need for “pay restraint” for NHS staff – as inflation soars towards 8% – leaving staff facing a further real-terms pay cut of around 5% – equivalent to £20 per week for staff on £20,000 and £30 per week for staff on £30,000.

In early February Bank of England boss Andrew Bailey, struggling by on just half a million per year,  triggered a storm of protest when he called for workers to show “restraint” rather than seek pay increases to at least keep pace with the rising rate of inflation.  But pay restraint does not prevent inflation, it just means that working people suffer its effects more severely.

Health workers’ pay has already been restrained – for over ten years. Last year the Health Foundation calculated that over the previous decade nurses and health visitors had suffered a real terms loss since 2011 of £1,583 on annual salary, midwives £1,813 and scientific and technical staff a massive £2949.

Full story in The Lowdown, 30 March 2022