"We hope to strike in autumn": Sheffield NHS worker and union rep slams proposed three per cent pay rise

A Sheffield NHS worker and union rep has slammed the Government’s new proposed three per cent pay rise for some NHS staff as an ‘insult’ which could see staff strike.

By Lloyd Bent
Thursday, 22nd July 2021, 11:23 am

The Government yesterday announced a pay rise of three per cent for a number of professions within the NHS – an increase from the initially proposed one per cent which provoked an outcry earlier this year.

Joan Pons Laplana, a former Sheffield nurse who is a GMB Union rep and works in health education for the NHS, said that the offer – which still falls below the Bank of England projected inflation rate and is therefore an ‘effective pay cut’ – will ‘do nothing’ to help retain struggling NHS staff or encourage new ones to join.

This could lead to an exacerbation of the already-dangerous levels of understaffing, as the NHS struggles to provide adequate care as a result, he said.

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Nurses attended a protest in Sheffield last year to demand higher pay.

“I think that three per cent is still an insult,” said Mr Laplana. “It is not a proper pay rise. It is only just above the current inflation rate of 2.4 per cent and well below the Bank of England’s forecasted 4 per cent inflation. It will mean that, since 2010, we have lost 20 per cent of our income.

"After the year we have had it is disgusting. More than 1000 of my NHS colleagues have died and this is their response.

"All the unions agree about this and will be balloting their members, and we hope there is going to be a strike in autumn.”

Health Secretary Sajid Javid’s proposal for the pay rise has also angered many over the fact that junior doctors and social care professionals have been left out completely.

Joan Pons Laplana worked in intensive care at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield during the coronavirus crisis.

Mr Laplana added: “The Government is underestimating our power. This is the first time all professions I am aware of are against something.

"They are treating us like we are a bunch of stupid imbeciles. But we are not. We are all highly trained, skilled and intelligent and we deserve recognition.”

The suggested three per cent rise comes after the government accepted the recommendations of the independent NHS Pay Review Body (NHSPRB) and the Review Body for Doctors’ and Dentists’ Renumeration (DDRB). It will be backdated to April 2021.

For the average nurse, this will mean an additional £1,000 a year, while many porters and cleaners will receive around £540.

Unions are all campaigning for more, with demands ranging from a four per cent increase to 15 per cent.

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “NHS staff are rightly receiving a pay rise this year despite the wider public sector pay pause, in recognition of their extraordinary efforts. We asked the independent pay review bodies for their recommendations and I’m pleased to accept them in full, with a 3% pay rise for all staff in scope, from doctors and nurses to paramedics and porters.

“We will back the NHS as we focus our efforts on getting through this pandemic and tackling the backlog of other health problems that has built up. I will continue to do everything I can to support all those in our health service who are working so tirelessly to care for patients.”