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NHS pay award – it is time for fair pay for hospices too

Author: Jonathan Ellis
04 April 2018

Jonathan Ellis, Hospice UK’s Director of Advocacy and Change, writes about the impact the NHS pay increase will have on the hospice sector.

In March, the Government set out plans to end the public sector pay cap in the NHS by offering above-inflation pay increases.

The offer on the table, which has to be agreed by staff, is a complex one.  If agreed, over the next three years, half of the English NHS workforce will see their pay rise by 6.5 per cent over the course of the three year agreement, while the other half will receive increases of between 9 per cent and 29 per cent because they are not at the top of their pay bands.  There are also proposals to increase pay for people on the lowest full-time NHS salaries.  NHS pay in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is a devolved matter, but it is widely expected that those administrations will also introduce pay increases.    

The costs of the increase are to be met out of an additional £4.2 billion pot of government funding, rather than out of existing NHS resources.  For Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, additional funds will be made available through the normal allocations to those administrations.

Of course, tackling low levels of pay in the NHS is a good and necessary thing, but the government has not considered the impact on other parts of the healthcare system, like hospices. 

Not all voluntary sector hospices follow Agenda for Change to set pay levels, but the effect of the NHS pay award proposals will add considerable inflationary pressures to charitable hospices.  Hospices are competing for staff in the same local market as local NHS Bodies, and although pay levels are one of the many factors that attract people to work in a particular organisation, it is likely that most hospices will face pressure to match the NHS increases.

In the past, the government has recognised the effect of changes in NHS terms and conditions for hospices.  For example, when the employer contribution to the NHS pension scheme was doubled from 7 per cent to 14 per cent in 2004, the government set aside additional resources to offset the increased costs for hospices. 

At Hospice UK, we think that a similar approach should be taken in light of the pay proposals, and we are writing to the Secretary of State for Health & Social Care, Jeremy Hunt, to ask him to do so.    

The NHS pay proposals will be voted on by NHS staff, and a final decision is expected in July 2018, with pay increases, if agreed, backdated to April.  Between now and then, we will be encouraging the government to take steps to mitigate the impact on voluntary hospices. 

You can join the debate and have your say on Twitter by following the hashtag #FairPay4Hospices.

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Sue McGraw

I've already written to Jeremy Hunt and our 4 local MPs about this very matter. I also wrote to Sajid Javid. As Secretary of State for Housing, Communities & Local Government, I felt he may be able to exert some influence as It's our local communities that will suffer if hospice care is cut.

04/04/2018 15:31:12


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