Ahead of NHS pay rise proposals from the government, the chief executive of NHS England has warned that any staff pay rise above 3 per cent could be taken from other health budgets, such as cancer, instead of additional public funding.
The warning also comes as the National Health Service is set to lose 6,000 jobs across its three main management organisations: NHS England, Health Education England and NHS Digital.
NHS staff working in three national bodies were told on Thursday that their jobs are at risk as the organizations look to cut roles by 30 to 40 per cent.
NHSE chief executive Amanda Pritcher wrote in a letter to NHS England staff: “We need to downsize our organization so we can focus on enabling and supporting change and empowering systems to lead locally. That is, we are strict about the activities of our new organization. We need to simplify how we work in the new organization and how we work with the wider NHS.
“As the NHS continues to recover from the pandemic and the economic situation across the country is tougher, we also need to continue to ensure that our resources are used as efficiently and effectively as possible.”
The letter states that, based on the initial work, by the end of 2024 the number of organizations will be 30-40 percent less. They will limit any external recruitment and will look to offer voluntary redundancy schemes from the autumn, Ms Pritchard told staff.
NHS chiefs also issued a warning on Thursday about NHS pay rises, saying that if the government increased staff pay by more than 3 per cent, the health service would be forced to cut budgets for cancer and primary care.
The government is expected to make its pay rise proposal in the next few weeks, but has given no indication that it will provide extra funding to the NHS to support an increase of more than 3 per cent.
Sources said the government’s offer was likely to be in the region of 4.5 per cent, which would mean the NHS would find £1.5 billion in its budget to fund pay rises.
Patricia Marquis, director of the Royal College of Nursing in England, said: “NHS England chief executive Amanda Pritchard was right to recognize the ‘urgent need’ for a fair pay rise for nurses. We fully agree that the forthcoming pay rise is an integral part of the recruitment and retention of nurses and the very viability of the services in which they work. The number of people quitting is increasing and it needs to be addressed.
“After ten years of real pay cuts and in the midst of a cost of living disaster, this year’s pay needs to be significant – 5% above inflation to make people feel valued and prevent more from patient care and safety. This should be fully funded by additional investment from the government.
“A wage increase of just three percent will not help stem the tide. The new health minister must rise above the political chaos that has gripped the government and show his support for nursing with an immediate and substantial pay rise, just three months from now.”