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NHS staff face 'toxic combination'

Health staff are under severe pressure because of a "toxic combination" of a pay freeze, increased workload and shrinking resources, unions have warned.

In a submission to the NHS Pay Review Body, unions representing over a million nurses, midwives, paramedics, porters, cooks and cleaners, said stress levels were rising, with many employees struggling to survive.

Pay has been frozen for health workers for two years until next April, although those earning less than £21,000 - more than 450,000 - have received a rise of £250, but unions said this had been soaked up by the rising cost of food, fuel and childcare.

The impact of the proposed pension changes and the Government's health reforms were adding to the stress levels of staff, said the unions.

Christina McAnea, national officer of Unison, said: "The current turmoil in the NHS is undermining staff morale and threatening the delivery of high quality patient care.

"On top of job cuts and ward closures, growing waiting lists and an attack on their pension, staff face a reorganisation on an unprecedented scale.

"By imposing a pay freeze for the second year running, the Government is adding insult to injury. Pay has never been generous in the NHS, and with inflation rising, many families are struggling to cover the costs of even basic essentials."

Josie Irwin, of the Royal College of Nursing, said: "Coalition policy means that nurses face suffering a second year of pay cuts. This comes on top of unprecedented change and upheaval in the NHS - leading to low morale, uncertainty and insecurity."

Rehana Azam, national officer of the GMB, said: "At a time when working people are dealing with their own deficits as the cost of living increases including the essentials like childcare, fuel and food, wage stagnation and the position directed from Government to Pay Review Bodies is unhelpful and unfair."

Rachael Maskell, head of health at Unite, said: "The NHS workforce are facing unprecedented challenges to their pay, in the midst of mass re-organisation and cuts, in some cases losing 25% in pay as a result. These cuts to services and employment terms are causing morale in the NHS to fall significantly."

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