The Guild of Healthcare Pharmacists (GHP), which represents hospital pharmacists in England, will put the government’s latest pay offer to its members in a vote “without recommendation”, it has said.
In a statement, published on 16 March 2023, the government put forward a revised pay offer for NHS staff that included a one-off payment amounting to 2% of an individual’s salary in 2022/2023, as well as an additional payment “worth at least £1,250 per person” depending on experience.
This is in addition to the previously awarded 4% pay increase that was announced for NHS staff, including hospital pharmacists, in 2022/2023.
The government also put forward a 5% pay increase for all Agenda for Change (AfC) staff in 2023/2024.
This comes after the Department for Health and Social Care had said, in February 2023, that “funding is available for pay awards up to 3.5%”, and that “pay awards above this level would require trade-offs for public service delivery or further government borrowing”.
However, the government’s latest statement said it “also recognises that families across the country are facing increasing financial pressures, fuelled by the war in the Ukraine and the ongoing fallout from the pandemic”.
In response, the GHP said in a statement that it would be “putting this offer to members without recommendation”, adding that the offer had been made “after months of government delays and only because of industrial action by members of Unite and other health unions”.
The GHP added that “members voting to reject the offer would need to consider if they would be prepared to take industrial action”.
Hospital pharmacists in England were consulted in December 2022 on whether they would take industrial action, with 84% voting in favour. However, the turnout of 32% did not meet the legal threshold required to carry out an industrial action ballot.
Paul Day, director of the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) and the PDA Union, told The Pharmaceutical Journal: “We are a UK-wide organisation and there are now some differences in what this means between the nations. We will be asking our members in all four nations to let us know their views on the NHS pay in their country.
“Our ballot for strike action of members employed in the NHS in Northern Ireland continues until next week.”
Sharon Graham, general secretary of Unite, of which the GHP is a member, said that the offer “is not one that Unite can recommend to our members, but ultimately it is important that our members make the final decision”.
“Unite will support members in whichever decision they now make,” she said. “It is clear that this government does not hold the interest of workers or the NHS at heart. Their behaviour and disdain for NHS workers and workers generally is clear from their actions.”
Regarding the proposed pay increase for NHS staff, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said in a statement: “We have taken a reasonable approach throughout and this offer is good for NHS staff, it’s good for the taxpayer and most importantly it is good news for patients whose care will no longer be disrupted by strike action.”