The Government has rejected the independent pay review bodies’ recommendations of a 1% consolidated pay increase for salaried doctors, dentists and other NHS employees in England.
It instead announced that staff will receive either the incremental pay increase to which they are entitled, or a non-consolidated payment worth 1% of their basic pay. Very senior NHS managers will have their pay frozen.
Both the NHS Pay Review Body (NHSPRB) and the Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration (DDRB) had recommended a 1% increase in pay points for salaried staff in their remit groups from 1 April 2014, but Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt said: “The [review bodies’] recommendations for a 1% consolidated rise for all staff, on top of automatic increments, are unaffordable and would risk the quality of patient care.”
Instead, he said, the Government would adopt the approach that staff entitled to incremental progression would not receive any additional increase in pay, and those not eligible for progression pay would receive a non-consolidated payment. The Government intends to take the same approach next year.
However, he added that the Government would be prepared to reconsider the position if the trade unions agreed to freeze progression pay in 2015/16. According to the Department of Health, this would generate sufficient savings to give staff a 1% consolidated increase both this year and next.
The review bodies will not be asked to make a recommendation on pay for the 2015 pay round, which will be the third year under the Government’s policy of restricting pay awards in the public sector to an average of 1%.
Last year, the Government announced that it would focus on reform of progression pay in the public sector, and the response to the review bodies’ recommendations underlines its determination to clamp down on these payments, which the Government estimates are received by more than half of NHS staff (around 600,000 people).
The NHS trade unions have reacted angrily to the proposals, with Unite describing it as a “divide and rule tactic” and accusing the health secretary of “muddying the waters” by treating incremental progression increases as part of the pay award.
The Government has accepted the recommendations for a 1% increase to be paid to members of the armed forces – who are exempt from the changes to progression pay – and most staff in public-sector prisons in England and Wales.
The Scottish Government has said that it has accepted the NHSPRB and DDRB recommendations for a 1% increase across the board, and – in line with its policy on public-sector pay – it will supplement the uplift for staff on full-time equivalent salaries of less than £21,000 per year so they receive a consolidated rise of £300. It also has a commitment to pay at least the level of the living wage in Scotland.
In Wales, the pay awards will be based on the same cost of implementing the proposals announced in England, but may be distributed in a different way. It has not yet been confirmed whether or not the recommendations will be accepted in Northern Ireland.