The Pay Review Body, which recommends the level of NHS pay, is due to report in the next few weeks. We already know that Tory health minister  Jeremy Hunt has argued that most NHS staff should only receive even a 1% pay increase (which is still a pay cut in real terms) if we agree to wholesale destruction of working conditions. This includes an end to incremental rises, cuts in unsocial hours and cuts in annual leave. The aim of any changes is to slash the wages bill.

Hunt is apparently happy for the most senior managers to continue to benefit from “exceptional” pay settlements if they are doing an “outstanding job” – but is happy to let a million outstanding NHS staff languish on pay that lags behind inflation, and keen to slash back on the Agenda for Change framework that allows progression up the pay scale.

Calling on NHS staff to choose between devastating cuts to patient care or a 1% rise is emotional blackmail of the worst kind. The threat exposes the extent of the government’s real cuts to NHS budgets as well as its willingness to ignore the lessons of the Francis report. Report after report has demonstrated the risk to quality arising from ‘putting finance before patients’.

It’s clear the government has no idea how incremental progression works to help employers and support staff in improving their skills. The “rate for the job” is the top of the pay band, and removing progression towards this will not save money - in fact just the opposite.  Managed properly, a progressive pay system helps the NHS to monitor performance and ensures staff are being given the right training and support to do their job.Hunt apparently does not believe that a newly qualified nurse or occupational therapist needs support to learn their job and improve their skills and performance, linked to progression through the pay spine.

But in the real world, freezing and squeezing pay is heaping financial misery on NHS workers, and stoking up anger.  We know that productivity comes from having well motivated staff who understand their jobs, have adequate resources, and feel valued by their employer. Being told they are not worth a measly 1% is likely to have the opposite effect. 

UNISON has calculated that NHS staff have lost between 8% and 10% of their pay in the last three years alone. Enough is enough.

Our branch has voted for a campaign, backed up if necessary by action, to break out of the freeze on pay. We are holding meetings on this in the various
workplaces in the run-up to the PRB announcement. Help us force the pace and make a difference.

Branch meeting on pay with Assistant General Secretary Roger Mackenzie 7.30 pm 1st April - Oxford town hall

Site meetings on pay


  • JRII Lecture Theatre 2 12-2 pm and 5 pm on 20th March
  • Churchill - OCDEM Robert Turner Lecture Theatre 12.30 - 1.30 17th March
  • NOC - Conference room Oxford Centre for Enablement 12.30 - 2pm on 18th March
  • East Oxford Health Centre - 12-2 Wed 19th March
  • Warneford - postponed (previously 5th march)
  • Slade House - Able House 25th March 5.30-7.30pm


  • Mental health Centre 12-2pm Tuesday 11th March