The Gill Medical Practice is a GP practice in Walkden with a list of 7,000 patients, and 20 staff members.
Dr Nicholas Browne, who is one of the partners in the practice and the joint social values lead for the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), shares what he thinks about the real Living Wage:
Q: What does the Real Living Wage campaign mean to you?
A: The Real Living Wage (RLW) brings a sense of justice to our society. The social determinants of health and wellbeing include being paid a good wage, so for us to run a healthcare service and not pay the staff enough is hypocrisy.
Q: How did your journey towards being a RLW accredited employer begin?
A: Our journey started when I went to another GP service and saw a certificate to say they were a RLW accredited practice. This is when I first started to look into this. We found that we were already paying the RLW apart from the contracted cleaner and so set about to change this. Once we got the accreditation, the cleaner actually one day stopped me in the corridor and said “Nick, this means so much to me and I wanted to thank you for that”, this was very heart-warming to first-hand see the massive difference this makes to people’s lives.
Q: What would you say have been the biggest benefits you’ve seen after becoming RLW accredited?
A: In terms of organisational benefit, RLW accreditation helps with recruitment and helps you feel assured that you are doing the right thing. When you are in professional positions, you sometimes lose perspective on what is comfortable for other people. So having this accreditation gives us that assurance that the people working for us are not struggling financially because of their pay. The turnover of staff we have is very low and when you see other practices that do not pay it, they struggle to retain and attract staff.
Q: What message do you have to other employers in your field who are not already RLW accredited?
A: The question I would ask to other medical professionals, medical practices and employers is: How ashamed would you feel if you found out your staff were using food banks?
We hear about high food bank use from people who are struggling to make ends meet despite being employed and working full time, so how would this make you feel This RLW assures none of my staff are ever in this position.
Feedback from other practices is sometimes worry around if they can afford to pay it or not. My message would be is ‘do the maths’ and actually work out how much it would cost you. Most people in primary care, it doesn’t cost as much as you think it will. Very simply put, there are no drawbacks to the RLW. If there are any uplifts in the RLW, as an employer you have four months to adjust to this and plan.
My message is, if you don’t do this, and your competitors do then you will be left behind. People want to work in places where they will feel respected, and this translates into their wage packets. The poverty gap will never be fixed unless we ensure the lowest paid workers are on a decent wage.