Paramedics are not feeling the benefit of the economy ‘picking up’
There are lots of reasons to be unhappy with the Secretary of State’s decision not to give a fair pay rise to NHS staff this year, but it’s the unfairness which really grates. We are told that the economy is picking up – but for the fourth year in a row our pay is being frozen. We are told that the current pay restraint is to save jobs – yet swathes of posts disappeared from the NHS last year. We are told that the government can’t afford a measly 1% increase to hourly rates at the same time that we hear about tax breaks and subsidies available to other groups – not least the 11% proposed increase to MPs own wages. Our own colleagues in Scotland received the amount recommended by the 1% which mean they now earn more each hour than those of us working south of Hadrian’s Wall.
Changing shifts, new roles and consolidation of stations into ‘super-hubs’ have all meant that ambulance staff have had to adapt to a range of new ways of working over the last few years. Many of our trusts have also taken on provision of the new 111 phone triage system. This constant churn of change, plus the pressure of coping with increasing violence from members of the public and the much publicised shortages and backlogs at A&E, all adds up to a recipe for growing discontent. And this is at a time when 999 staff are already aggrieved at the Government’s decision to make them work until they are nearly seventy.
No wonder we have high numbers of ambulance staff looking to take early retirement.
If we want to hang on to experienced 999 staff, we need to make sure they are well rewarded – so they can spend time worrying about their patients and not feeling angry about their pay.
We’re worth more than the kick in the teeth Hunt has dished out. Four years of frozen pay – with no commitment to a catch-up anytime soon – is unfair. This is why my colleagues and I working in emergency services support the campaign for Fair Pay for NHS staff.
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