The SoR has called on the government to re-open the NHS 2023-24 pay round following the latest rises for public sectors workers outstripping the 5 per cent award to radiographers in England.
SoR members across 43 NHS trusts in England voted for industrial action in protest at the award, and a 48-hour strike is planned across the country from 25-27 July - following strikes by junior doctors and hospital consultants over the preceding two weeks.
Dean Rogers, executive director of industrial strategy and members relations, said: "The announcement from the government, supporting a 6.5 per cent pay increase for other public-sector workers and increasing the offer to junior doctors, highlights how inadequate and unfair the NHS 5 per cent pay deal is.
"Junior doctors could not do their jobs without the radiography professionals who carry out X-rays, MRI and CT scans, ultrasounds and breast screening, as well as radiotherapy for cancer patients. Radiographers should therefore be offered at least the same pay increase."
The Schools Teachers’ Review Body recommended a pay award of 6.5% across all pay scales, and the Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration’s recommended pay for junior doctors increase by 8.8% on average, and for consultants a rise of 6%. However, the rises are unfunded, meaning the NHS will have to find savings from existing budgets to pay the suggested increases.
Dean said: "Had the government offered all public-sector workers a 6.5 per cent pay increase when we gave evidence to the pay review body in January, strike action by our union and others could quite possibly have been avoided.
"Last week, the health minister told us that he couldn’t reopen a deal that others had agreed to. But he also said at the same time that the government couldn’t afford to pay junior doctors or teachers more than 5 per cent. If they can change their mind about one, then they can change their mind about the other. But they are refusing to talk to us, even though our door is open."
Even a 6.5 per cent increase would not be enough on its own to address the workforce crisis across the NHS, said Dean. "For that, we need a serious workforce strategy that addresses the current staffing shortages and excessive working hours. These challenging conditions are driving radiographers away from the profession.
"The government accepts that the starting salary for a teacher should be above £30,000, in order to tackle problems with recruitment and retention. Why is it then refusing to talk to us about a similar starting rate for new professionals in the NHS – such as radiographers, physiotherapists, podiatrists and nurses – when the NHS has record burnout and vacancy rates?
"If the government wants to reduce NHS waiting lists and ensure that patients receive the treatment they need, when they need it, then it must urgently prioritise the recruitment and retention of radiography professionals."
Dean said that agreeing to reopen the NHS 2023-24 pay round – with a willingness to match the latest public sector awards – would be an important signal of hope from the government, and would help avoid further industrial action from the SoR.
"Until the government is willing to talk reasonably to us, we will proceed with plans for strike action later this month."
Check out the SoR's toolkit on industrial action to help you prepare for the strike starting at 8am on 25 July.
Image: Eva Slusarek