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NHS pay increase 'unnecessary' and 'unaffordable', says NHS Employers

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The NHS Employers organisation is urging pay review bodies to recommend freezing pay scales for NHS staff in 2014/15.

The organisation, which is the voice of employers in the NHS, said increasing pay by 1% would add £500 million to staff costs and the increase is "unaffordable" and "unnecessary".

The NHS Employers have submitted evidence to the NHS Pay Review Body, which will then analyse it alongside submissions from other groups such as unions before providing advice to the Government on NHS pay in early 2014.

Trade union Unite has said the annual pay rise for NHS workers should be a consolidated cash sum for all staff, which would benefit those who are lower paid.

Unite said the NHS Pay Review Body should recommend a bottom loaded flat rate increase for the million NHS workers.

NHS Employers chief executive Dean Royles said it is the most "significant evidence" submitted for some time.

"It comes at a crucial point in NHS pay reform discussions – reforms which are needed if patients are to be treated and cared for properly and more effectively seven days a week. NHS pay is already competitive and increasing year on year for most staff.

"We have been listening to employers and they tell us that money in the NHS is very tight, while they are doing everything they can to retain staff and increase quality. It has never been more important for the review bodies to listen to, and take seriously, that employer voice."

Battered and bruised

In 2012 average pay in the NHS (including basic pay plus additions such as overtime) was: £30,564 for a nurse, £109,651 for a consultant, £47,702 for a manager, and £36,130 for a qualified paramedic.

"I would love it if we could increase pay for our incredibly hard working staff," said Royles.

"As employers we want them to feel valued and recognise that months of negative publicity have left them feeling battered and bruised. We know pay increases are important financially and emotionally.

"We are already seeing considerable pressure on our ability to maintain staffing numbers and any such increase is bound to add to the pressure, impact on patient care and undermine job security. So a pay increase is not appropriate this year."

Unite, which has 100,000 members in the health service, said it wanted the PRB to "grasp the nettle" of declining living standards of NHS staff. It said in only eight months since 2006, NHS staff have experienced above inflation pay increases.

"The idea behind the flat rate increase is that the rise in the price of a loaf of bread is the same whether you are a trust chief executive or a cleaner. Why should the CEO get a pay increase of more than ten times that of the cleaner, as would be the case it you have a percentage increase," said Unite head of health Rachael Maskell.