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.

Christina McAnea, UNISON Head of Health is reported to have have announced that this is the year to fight over NHS pay and that branches prepare for at least one day of strike action.  This statement has been made in the light of employers demands to end incremental pay and a 16% fall in value of NHS wages since 2008.

While we are still waiting the detail of what kind of pay system that would replace incremental pay we should be under no illusions that it will do nything than substantially increase already unbearable pay cuts.  Current staff may find themselves losing incremental points worth several hundred pounds a year - every year for the rest of their working life.  New starters and people moving to new jobs would be denied tens of thousands of pounds of future wages if spot pay is introduced - unless of course the employers decide to put everyone on the top of their band from day 1!

Kelvin Makenzie, the UNISON Assistant General Secretary will be speaking at the Oxfordshire UNISON Health branch Annual General Meeting this Saturday 25th January, 6 pm, Four Pillars Hotal, Abigndon Rd, Oxford.  The meeting is open to all branch members.

One of the main concerns will be the announcement by the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, that NHS staff can have no pay rise unless we accept cuts in our terms and conditions.  The cuts proposed by employers include cuts in annual leave, removal of the incremental pay progression and further cuts in sick pay.

The AGM is a chance for branch members to tell UNISON leadership what they want to happen.  We will be debating and voting on a motion calling for a defence of pay.  A large turnout for the vote will send a strong message to UNISON's leadership that we won't accept further cuts and we want them to turn the words of the Worth It campaign into action.  We know we have had 12-16% cuts since 2008, now we want a plan to halt this decline and recover what we have had taken away.

Anyone attending the AGM before 7 pm will be eligible for entry into the prize raffle that will be drawn at the end of the meeting.  After the meeting their will be a party with a meal paid from branch funds for those who book.  This year the party will be celebrating Anthea Parson's retirement as UNISON convenor.

All members can attend the AGM and party and can bring one guest for free but you must book a meal for each of you if you would like one to be provided on the night.

Meals can be booked here or through your local steward.

Tory health minister Jeremy Hunt says NHS staff can only receive the 1% pay increase (which is 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.

Oxford University Hospitals Trust has already proposed cutting over a thousand staff, forcing remaining staff to work harder to if services are to be maintained.  Southern Health rammed through cuts in unsocial hours earlier this year for band 2 and 3 social care staff.  Similar attacks are escalating across the NHS and demand a response.

Oxfordshire NHS services are facing severe cuts and the prospect of privatisation as government reforms begin to bite.

  • 1,500+ planned job cuts at the Oxford University Hospitals Trust
  • NOC OT's face downbanding
  • Oxford Health Foundation Trust service redesign includes cuts to jobs, beds and nursing cover.

And this is just the start as NHS budgets prove inadequate to meet demand.  NHS bosses are openly saying they can no longer make cuts without closing services - undermining the health care of everyone who depends on the NHS and the terms and conditions of stff who look after them.

More Oxfordshire services are being put out to tender without any guarantee that NHS Trusts will secure contracts.  Nationally the majority - over 80% -  of clinical contracts awarded since April have been awarded to private health companies.

This year the “independent” NHS Pay Review Body agreed to the government’s demands that pay should be held down to 1% - a very poor proposal given steady inflation and years of pay freeze. (Our national negotiators told them the freeze had led to a pay drop of 9%).
None-the-less something interesting did slip out in their report on market facing pay where they noted in their best NHS  management speak: “the cost of commissioning or providing healthcare services is not the same in every part of the country
due to the impact of market forces on local costs.