Feature Data Briefing

Pay in the NHS: who earns what?

BMJ 2015; 351 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.h6250 (Published 26 November 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h6250
  1. John Appleby, chief economist, King’s Fund, London, UK
  1. j.appleby{at}kingsfund.org.uk

Healthcare workers have all had a pay squeeze over the past few years, but John Appleby finds some have done better than others

Healthcare has always been a labour intensive industry and is likely to remain so. In a study of the probability of computerisation of different occupations, along with choreographers, computer systems analysts, and the clergy, healthcare jobs rank among the least susceptible to replacement by computers and robots.1 Good news for employment of NHS workers. But it also means that their pay— in aggregate around £50bn (€71bn; $76bn)—38% of the total NHS spend and the single largest cost in providing healthcare—is hard to ignore in times of austerity.

Squeezing growth in the pay bill over the past five years2 has been a key policy to make the NHS money go further. The impact of five years of capping pay growth is …

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