The NHS is in danger of losing thousands of vital employees due to fierce competition for workers from high street firms, warns a leading union.
Unison said that without significant pay rises, 999 call handlers, health assistants, medical secretaries and cleaning assistants were tempted to switch to the private sector.
Supermarkets, coffee shops and logistics companies are among those promoting wages higher than the lowest hourly rates in the NHS, according to Unison. Drivers in particular can get higher salaries if they move to a private company, it was suggested.
Golden hello worth £ 1,500, overtime allowances of £ 2 extra per hour and staff discounts are among the incentives offered, it was revealed. Unison warned that an exodus of NHS workers to the private sector would be a “disaster” for health care in the midst of an ongoing staffing crisis.
A report for Unison by Incomes Data Research said: “In the public sector, rising inflation means that the gap between wage increases there and those in the private sector is likely to widen again. If the government does not act to narrow this gap, the NHS is likely to stand facing many of the problems around staff recruitment, retention and morale that arose in the past. “
NHS staff were due to receive their pay rise in 2022 by the end of this week, but delays had led to a “frustrating wait” until later in the summer, Unison said. Staff in the UK can expect a 3 per cent pay rise offer from the government – which many say does not come close offsets many years of real wage cuts – which will be wiped out by the end of the year with inflation expected to hit 8%.
Unison calls for a wage increase over inflation, the voluntary real wage of between £ 9.90 and £ 11.05 per hour as the minimum rate across the NHS, and other emergency measures to retain staff.
Sara Gorton, Unison’s head of health, said: “It’s clear that big employers competing with the NHS for staff are acting fast. The health service can not function without cleaners, porters, health workers and other low paid workers, but no one would blame them for taking jobs with employers who are willing to pay better rates.
“The Chancellor’s spring statement was silent about wages in the public sector, but the staff crisis will be deepened unless the government acts quickly with a real wage increase that leaves inflation in the shadows. Workers will then have no choice but to go for better prices on the main street as the cost of living crisis continues to bite. It does not bode well for patient care. ”
The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health was contacted for comment.