NHS trade unions, including one that covers NHS-employed pharmacists, have submitted a joint pay claim to the government on behalf of their members for a 3.9% pay rise and an extra £800 to make up for some of the loss in income caused by the seven-year long public sector pay cap.
The 14 unions, which all have national pay bargaining power, have written to chancellor Philip Hammond urging him to support their claim for NHS workers and to earmark the necessary funds in his November budget.
Unite was one of the unions behind the joint claim. It represents thousands of health care workers and professional associations including the Guild of Healthcare Pharmacists (GHP).
Last week, the government effectively announced an end to the pay cap when it said police officers would receive a 2% annual pay rise, and prison officers’ pay would rise by 1.7%.
GHP member and hospital pharmacist Aamer Safdar, who works at Guys and St Thomas’s NHS foundation trust, said that the enduring public sector pay cap had meant many pharmacists had seen their pay cut as inflation had continued to rise.
He said that all public sector workers should be treated equally — the government’s decision to lift the pay cap for police and prison officers and not others was “divisive”.
He said: “I think that 3.9% is a bit high but from the pharmacy perspective I think it’s more of an issue for people on lower pay grades [where] 3.9% would make a difference.”
The Pharmacists’ Defence Association Union (PDAU) said “thousands” of its members were employed by the NHS in hospitals and other settings and so were subject to the pay cap. It did not apply to community pharmacists.
The PDAU welcomed the 3.9% joint pay claim but was unable to put its name to their letter as it does not have national pay bargaining rights for pharmacists.
However, in a separate move made at the same time, PDAU chief executive John Murphy has written to pharmacy minister Steve Brine reminding him that its NHS members “will be looking to him to see how pharmacists are prioritised and valued in coming pay reviews”.