SoR recommends rejection of England NHS pay offer

Offer is a 'pay cut in real terms' says SoR as leaders prepare to consult members

Published: 28 March 2023 Trade Union & IR

On 28 March the SoR UK Council agreed unanimously to recommend members reject the 2023-24 pay offer for members working in the NHS in England.

There is a workforce crisis across radiography that needs to be recognised and taken seriously. This is impacting patients. This pay award should signal that the Government understands this and start the move towards a more strategic, long term approach to restoring pay and the status of NHS professionals – something that’s vital to sustain the NHS.

An indicative ballot of the SoR membership in England will now be conducted electronically. It will open on Tuesday 4 April and close on the 25 April. If you do not receive the email with your ballot, please let the Society know.

"Insult to our members"

SoR Head of Industrial Relations Leandre Archer said the offer did not deal with the major workforce problems within radiography: "We need to ensure our members are valued for the work they do and that we entice people into the profession. This deal will do neither as it stands.

"Our members, like the rest of the public, are dealing with a cost-of-living crisis and an offer of 5% for 2023-24 is less than half of the level of inflation which is 10.4% today. This is a pay cut in real terms which is insulting to our members. I would ask all our members working in the NHS in England to respond to the upcoming consultation and have your voice heard."

The Society said the offer failed because:

  • It doesn’t bring enough additional money to the table. The NHS needs more investment. The 5% offer re-enforces the loss of relative value of NHS professionals pay since 2010 and makes pay restoration more difficult to achieve. This will fuel the recruitment and retention crisis undermining the NHS instead of helping to start addressing it.
  • The use of non-consolidated payments is short term. A one-off bonus payment does not counter inflation – prices will still be higher and rising next month when the one off payment has been spent. This money should be used for permanent pay awards and starting to restore the value of NHS professionals pay.
  • It leaves staff working in England earning less that professionals in Scotland or Wales. It also leaves new NHS professionals with lower salaries than other public sector graduates, leaving the NHS even less competitive than before the pay round.
  • The idea of a single pay spine for nurses is divisive, insulting and destabilising when the NHS needs to find greater cohesion, stability and consensus. There is as critical a workforce crisis in radiography as there is in nursing. Whilst there are evident challenges with the Agenda for Change structures, which need review and repair after 20 years of huge change across NHS professions, taking one profession before others is divisive.
  • The non-pay elements are not substantial enough. This is not an offer that signals a new start for the NHS or any long term commitment to partnership working in the interests of the NHS and patients
  • This is a “take it all or leave it” offer. The Government has indicated it cannot be broken up. It will likely take rejection by members and potentially industrial action to change and improve the offer.

What now?

The SoR needs members working in England to participate in our indicative consultation – whether they agree with UK Council and the recommendation to reject or not. It is important we know and can demonstrate the strength of feeling across our membership.

If members reject the offer, then we will consider the second question we are asking – will members support industrial action?

An indication of support for industrial action at this point does not commit members to taking action or mean that we will. Before being able to take industrial action we would need to formally ballot members by postal ballot. We would also want to consider our position against other unions following their consultations.

Our hope at this point is the Government wants to avoid further industrial action in the NHS and will respond to a strong message from radiographers – a keystone profession in their NHS recovery plans – and come back to the table to offer more consolidated money and a clear commitment to one unified pay system.

It is possible that some unions who were taking action and have recommended members accept the offer also find their members rejecting the offer.

We would also discuss further with Reps and members about what action we would consider – drawing from feedback in this consultation.

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