Congress asserts that health and care workers have never been more vital to the health and welfare of the nation. This year’s global pandemic has brought this more than ever before to the forefront of the public mind and thrown into sharp relief the contributions made and the greater exposure to risk. But these contributions are not new – while we are in exceptional times, this is the daily work of CSP members and other NHS workers.
Maternity services work twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Results of a survey by the RCM have shown that this is regularly without a break. Over three-quarters of respondents skip meals at work, over half feel dehydrated because they don’t have time to drink and 87 per cent delay using the toilet because of work demands.
The NHS is facing a workforce crisis – tens of thousands of vacant posts, rising waiting times and unmet patient need. And that is without the huge demands that will be placed on the service by the restoration of services suspended during the pandemic and by the long-term rehabilitation needs of Covid survivors. This is especially crucial as many Covid survivors will themselves be NHS staff, and many thousands more will be facing significant long-term psychological distress due to their experiences at work during the pandemic.
The RCM’s most recent estimate is that England is short of approaching 2,500 midwives and NHS Digital estimated that there were more than 88,000 NHS vacancies in England at the end of last year. We need to recruit and retain staff. Fair pay is crucial to ensuring the NHS has the workforce it needs for the future. Fair and decent pay is central to this and is an important indicator of the value that public service workers feel they are accorded.
Congress notes that austerity and cuts to the NHS and wider public services didn’t work in 2010 and it won’t work now.
Congress notes that applause for the NHS during the pandemic has translated into a solid belief that staff deserve an early pay rise. UNISON polling found that 69 per cent think all NHS staff should get a pay rise before the end of 2020; two-thirds believe such an increase should be significant.
While public support for the NHS during Covid-19 has been appreciated and a boost to morale, midwives and MSWs and other NHS workers have always and will continue to deliver safe, quality services. They deserve pay that reflects that, not through a one-off bonus but through a substantial consolidated increase.
Congress notes the RCM, CSP and the other NHS health unions are calling for the government to bring forward an NHS pay rise.
Congress believes that delivering this is an urgent priority that cannot wait until next April. The current three-year NHS pay agreement has only been a small first step towards redressing the damage done to public sector pay by the preceding decade of pay restraint.
Congress calls on the TUC to join NHS health unions in calling for a meaningful and immediate pay rise for NHS staff.
Mover: Chartered Society of Physiotherapy
Seconder: Royal College of Midwives
Supporters: UNISON; GMB; FDA; College of Podiatry