Why I am campaigning for a pay rise for local NHS staff
Our NHS workers deserve a fair deal - I'm campaigning to boost their wages in line with other areas with such a high cost of living. And yet, despite the cost of living being higher in Cambridge and South Cambridge than in most areas getting HCAS supplements, our NHS workers get nothing. Whether or not HCAS reflected local cost of living when they were devised, they definitely do not in 2022.
I'm campaigning to add our area to the HCAS scale and get our NHS workers the pay rise they need. I have two asks - that South Cambridgeshire and Cambridge City are included within the HCAS system, and that the additional costs for staffing budgets are made up by Government and not out of the existing NHS budgets for the area.
What are High Cost Area Supplements?
High Cost Area Supplements (HCAS) are payments given to NHS staff living in areas that are deemed to cost more than the average.
Devised two decades ago, HCAS centres on London – splitting high-cost areas into ‘Inner London’, ‘Outer London’, and ‘Fringe’ zones. In Inner London, all NHS workers get an extra 20% to cover the cost of living, in Outer London they get 15%, and in the “Fringe” (what a London-centric term!), NHS workers get up to five per cent more in their pay packet, on top of any long-term recruitment and retention premiums they already enjoy.
In an ideal world, it might provide a level playing field for NHS trusts in places where cost of living has always been higher, ensuring their recruits are not put off when moving to their new hospital. In practice, it tempts staff into London with up to £7,000 more in their pay packet. So-called fringe areas cover such hotspots as Royston, Harlow and Basildon, where NHS staff get paid 5% supplements. But NHS staff working in Cambridge and South Cambridge get nothing.
So far, I have
- Raised multiple parliamentary questions on NHS Pay and the HCAS system
- Met with Ministers from the Department of Health to discuss changes
- Met with senior staff at Addenbrookes Hospital and written to the Chief Executive
- Met with officials from the Department of Health to discuss legislative and contractual concerns
This campaign has just begun, but already I am glad to see how responsive the department is to our concerns. I will continue to make this case, publically and within the corridors of Westminster.