NHS Providers submission to the NHS Pay Review Body 2020/21
We welcome the opportunity to submit evidence to the NHS Pay Review Body (NHS PRB), on behalf of NHS trusts and foundation trusts, to inform the 2020/21 pay round. Key points within NHS Providers evidence submission, based on a survey of trust HR Directors in November 2019, national workforce data and feedback from trusts, are as follows:
- There is evidence that since the implementation of the AfC three-year pay deal there has been a positive trend in NHS staff satisfaction with pay. Views among trust HR directors are mixed, with around a third agreeing that staff feel better paid than before the deal, and a minority disagreeing that this is the case. Trusts have reported some challenges around staff perceptions of the deal given some staff have received smaller pay rises than they had anticipated and others being worse off in real terms due to crossing pensions contribution thresholds.
- As a likely result of the complex range of factors which influence morale, recruitment and retention of staff, few HR directors felt that the deal has improved recruitment and retention in their trust. Trusts continue to raise recruitment and retention as a major operational challenge, and the impact of financial and operational pressures on the working lives of NHS staff means that an increase in pay is not perceived to have influenced significant improvement in morale, given these pressures remain.
- A minority of trusts continue to experience difficulties with the implementation of the pay award, largely related to the roll out of electronic staff records (ESR) and manual implementation of pay steps, and ongoing uncertainty around the continued funding arrangements for pay rises for staff working in local authority-commissioned services. As highlighted in our 2019/20 pay round evidence submission, resolution of this issue would enable trusts’ financial planning.
- While the right level of pay, including ensuring pay keeps pace with the cost of living, is an important part of maintaining a motivated and engaged workforce, trusts highlighted the need to consider the range of factors which influence the satisfaction of NHS staff, including access to training, workload, culture, and working conditions. Measures such as improving the use of technology in trusts, increasing wellbeing support available to staff, improved physical environment and more flexibility for staff to work across systems, were cited as having potential to contribute to increased productivity and retention.
- Following the general election, we look forward to seeing the full People Plan, which will aim to address the issues related to recruitment, retention and morale of NHS staff which underpin the effect of the AfC pay settlement. We also observe that it will be important to review the impact of proposals to reinstate the nursing bursary.
- Views on the need for recruitment and retention premia (RRPs), for IT staff in particular, were mixed. While some felt there was a need to support trusts to recruit to shortage specialties and those where trusts are in competition with the private sector, some HR directors felt that the policy could be divisive, create local competition, and be unhelpful given the widespread shortages across specialties and professions. We would recommend close consultation with trusts in any move to implement RRPs for particular groups of staff.