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NHS unions to again boycott pay review body

Three unions representing nurses have announced that they will not submit evidence to the NHS Pay Review Body (PRB) for the 2024-25 pay round and have instead demanded direct pay negotiations with the government.

Unison, GMB and Unite have confirmed that they will once again boycott the PRB process, amid concerns that it is not fit for purpose.

The NHS PRB is an advisory body that makes recommendations to the government on the pay rates of NHS workers, including rises.

However, in recent years, health unions have raised concerns about the independence of the body and have favoured other ways of securing pay rises for their members, such as collective bargaining.

The unions also refused to submit evidence to the NHS PRB last year. They held direct negotiations with the government to secure improved pay offers for both the 2022-23 and 2023-24 pay rounds, following industrial action by their members.

This year, GMB has announced that it will again boycott the NHS PRB.

Its members have instead submitted their 2024-25 pay claim directly to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).

In the claim, the union has called for a flat rate pay increase for staff of £1.50 an hour, which it calculated would result in a 13% pay rise for the lowest paid.

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In addition, GMB has called for free parking for health workers, after research by the union revealed the NHS took £46m from staff parking in 2022-23.

The union has also urged for new measures on the ambulance retirement age, as well as reiterated its calls for safe staffing levels.

GMB national secretary Rachel Harrison said: “GMB will not engage with the NHS Pay Review Body process until it has been significantly reformed – with NHS and ambulance workers confident it’s truly independent.

“After extensive consultation with members, GMB have today submitted a pay claim directly to government and asked for pay negotiations.

“We now await the secretary of state’s response.”

Earlier this week, Unite also announced that it would not be submitting evidence to the NHS PRB, instead calling for “unrestricted and meaningful negotiations” directly with the government.

In a letter sent the health and social care secretary, Victoria Atkins, the union called for a “restorative” pay award for all NHS staff, including alignment with pay rates in Scotland.

“The government needs to stop hiding behind the NHS Pay Review Body”

Sharon Graham

Nurses in Scotland are currently the best paid in the UK, following the 6.5% pay uplift that was awarded by the Scottish Government for 2023-24 pay round.

Unite has also called for a series of non-pay commitments as part of the next pay offer, including a package to support the recruitment and retention of health staff and a review of Agenda for Change national job profiles.

Additionally, the union has demanded an amendment of the definition of unsocial hours, as well as an increase in annual leave entitlement in line with the position in Wales.

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Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “The government needs to stop hiding behind the NHS Pay Review Body and take direct responsibility for the catastrophic problems facing our health service.”

Ms Graham argued that the NHS PRB was “not truly independent” and that it could not be relied on “to make the recommendations needed to resolve the current crisis”.

She added: “So, Unite is demanding unrestricted and meaningful negotiations directly with government on an immediate, substantial pay increase to help reverse the real-terms pay cuts our members have suffered since 2010.”

Meanwhile, Unison has also confirmed to Nursing Times that it will not be submitting evidence to the NHS PRB for 2024-25.

The Royal College of Nursing is yet to announce its position.

The DHSC was contacted for comment.

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