Not content with years of pay freezes that have seen NHS pay shrink by at least 10% the government is now seeking to cut wages further by asking the Pay Review Body to change the pay system that would see wages reduced further.

The government has attacked annual increments as "unfair and unaffordable" and said that unsocial hours payments "do not reflect modern practice".

The government has suggested options for changing unsocial hours premia which include:

  •     changing the times defined as ‘unsocial’
  •     paying Saturdays at plain time
  •     lowering the rates for Sunday and Bank Holidays

If annual increments are abolished we can be sure that staff will not then be moved to the top of the current bands as the aim is to reduce the NHS pay bill further, meaning more cuts for exerienced staff if past increments are removed to equalise pay across bands.

These attacks can only undermine recruitment and retention of NHS staff.

The current pay dispute is essential to defeating future attacks on pay.  Support the strikes on 29th January and 25th February.

Christina McAnea, head of health at Unison, said: “For four years the government has either frozen or held NHS pay down, forcing staff to rely on the extra cash they get from working unsocial hours simply to get by.

“By raising the prospect of further cuts, the government will simply worsen what is already a big problem for the NHS – how to recruit and hold on to enough skilled healthcare staff to provide the services we all rely on.” McAnea said

“If these extra payments are cut, not only would staff suffer directly but it would also be difficult for the NHS to get cover for evenings and weekends.

“NHS workers now feel so taken for granted that many say they want to leave - these plans could prove the last straw.”