Health unions will not submit evidence to the NHS pay review body for the next wage round while the current industrial disputes remain unresolved, the 14 NHS unions have said today.

The Pharmacists’ Defence Association Union (PDAU) is not currently a member of the group of 14 NHS unions, but director Paul Day told The Pharmacist that it had also not submitted evidence to the review and that it, along with the other unions, felt that the potential change in inflation made it impossible to ensure that the pay review would be relevant.

Mr Day added that the PDAU is in the process of joining the NHS Staff Side Council, which negotiates on the Agenda for Change pay system, and will then be acting in solidarity with the other unions.

The 14 NHS unions said in a statement today that the ‘lengthy pay review body process’ is not able to deliver ‘a deal that resolves the current pay and staffing dispute and puts in place a settlement needed to get the NHS back on track’, especially in the light of rapidly rising inflation.

Instead, the unions hope to meet and speak directly with ministers to ‘ensure a speedier outcome, and one that could deliver the kind of settlement necessary to turn the NHS staffing crisis around’.

Paul Day, director of the PDAU, said that the current union structures were created before the PDAU existed and it has since grown to be the sixth largest UK union representing only health workers, with more than 7,000 pharmacist members employed by NHS employers.

‘We are therefore in the process of joining the NHS Staff Side Council and once a member will of course be acting in solidarity with the other NHS unions,’ he said.

Last week, Mr Day called for NHS pay to be ‘urgently increased’ in order for the NHS to be able to recruit and retain enough staff.

‘Our members, like all NHS workers and their families also need to deal with the cost of living crisis,’ he said.

The NHS group of unions is currently made up of: British Association of Occupational Therapists, British Dietetic Association, British Orthoptic Society, Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, Royal College of Podiatry, Federation of Clinical Scientists, GMB, Managers in Partnership, Prison Officers Association, Royal College of Midwives, Royal College of Nursing, Society of Radiographers, Unison and Unite.

Mr Day also commented on new legislation published yesterday that gives the government powers to set minimum staffing levels during strikes within healthcare and other professions, and would allow employers to specify which staff members may strike.

The PDAU director said that in issuing the legislation, the government was avoiding the dealing with the NHS crisis itself.

‘We ask - who faces a penalty for allowing the NHS to fail to meet minimum safety or service standards on non-strike days?  Will a minister take responsibility and face consequences?’ he said.

‘The PDA believes that industrial action should always be a last resort, especially for health professionals such as pharmacists, however having the option to strike is a fundamental right for working people in a fair and free, civilised society. The PDA will work with unions and others to defend that right,’ he added.