NHS staff set for significant pay rise as talks make progress

Mark Thomas/REX

A new NHS pay deal could give 1 million staff a 6.5% pay rise over the next three years, according to a report in The Guardian, but health workers may have to agree to give up a day’s holiday in return.

According to the report, the Treasury and Department of Health and Social Care have proposed that all non-medical staff in England receive a 3% salary rise in 2018-19 and then rises of 1%-2% in the following two years.

The scrapping of the pay cap would apply to nurses, midwives, healthcare assistants, ambulance staff and all other workers except doctors and dentists, who have a separate pay review system.

The deal will be formally put to staff later this month and would see some NHS employees receive pay rises of 10% by 2021.

The negotiations between the government and the 14 health unions have been taking place in secret and the report claims they have been constructive, with both unions and government committed to improving NHS staff’s pay.

It is thought that the idea of giving up a day’s holiday could delay agreement, however, because many staff already carry out regular unpaid overtime and have seen their real incomes cut significantly over the post-2010 austerity period.

Half of NHS employees benefit from a system of pay increments known as “progression pay” that gives them 3-4% on top of their annual increase. It is thought that this system had been under threat in favour of the wider pay rise, after hints by health secretary Jeremy Hunt last year.

But this threat is understood to have been dropped in favour of the cutting of a day’s holiday.

Nigel Edwards, chief executive of the Nuffield Trust think tank, told the Guardian that NHS staff, “particularly those paid least, will welcome the respite from a real-term squeeze on their wages. With very serious shortages of staff, government is right to conclude that an austerity approach to the NHS workforce has reached its limits.”

However, shadow chancellor John McDonnell during a speech in London, has criticised the proposals because the initial 3% rise is only in line with inflation, which meant the possible loss of a day’s holiday was unfair. He said: “I just think it’s mean-spirited to take a day’s holiday off these staff – they work long hours, they’re under pressure. I just think they deserve a decent holiday.”

If the deal is concluded it is a sign the government has recognised that the NHS is under unprecedented pressure – its chief executive Simon Stevens has said that February was its worst in its 70-year history, with waiting time targets for cancer treatment being missed and huge delays in A&E.

Edwards said: “Fundamentally, these pressures are driven by a lack of money and staff. If these are not addressed, it is inevitable that as difficult as February has been for NHS staff and patients, there will be worse to come.”

The Royal College of Nursing was cautious about the proposals, commenting on Twitter: “The RCN has been part of pay talks alongside all NHS unions. They are ongoing and have not concluded. Once there is agreement in principle – and the Treasury commits to fully fund it – our members will decide if any deal is acceptable.”

This week the results of the 2017 NHS Staff Survey revealed that the number of NHS staff satisfied with their pay was at its lowest level in 10 years.

Tim Gardner, senior policy fellow at the Health Foundation, said: “Many of these survey results will only improve when the NHS is given the resources it needs to meet growing demand without relying too much on the goodwill and sacrifice of staff.

“This means adequate long-term funding and a properly coordinated national workforce strategy which appropriately rewards staff for their efforts.”

4 Responses to NHS staff set for significant pay rise as talks make progress

  1. Sue 12 Mar 2018 at 8:59 am #

    Not sure which bit is “significant” as 3 percent minus a days holiday is rubbish. Some people getting 10 percent? Not for those at the top of their banding. Stop manipulating figures to make Nurses look ungrateful. We work hard!

  2. Georgina 14 Mar 2018 at 8:47 am #

    I had to comment as I was incensed by the headline of your article. Exchanging a days leave for this offer is not a payrise and is only significant as it implies that the government feels that the NHS staff do not deserve the holiday they are currently entitled to. I can only hope that this is rejected by the Unions & a new offer that reflects the dedication, hardwork and loyalty put in by staff is put on the table.

  3. Lee Foxton 14 Mar 2018 at 9:45 pm #

    The job is very rewarding but ultimately a rollercoaster of emotion, stress and mentally challenging. Workloads are increasing due to staff shortages and in many cases overtime is expected, it’s rare to finish bang on time as patients cannot be left mid exam or mid consultation.

    To even consider removing a vital holiday along with even a meagre 6.5 percent rise to me us insulting. I am not a nurse but I can understand their frustration with wards crammed full, having to juggle very poorly patients and meet targets, while wondering how their pay will stretch amidst increasing bills and taxes.

    It’s time the government had a reality check and instead of boosting their pay packets every year, actually considered others for a change and the impact their decision making has on many less fortunate people and the wider communities they serve.

  4. Kay 15 Mar 2018 at 1:54 pm #

    3% significant? It would do is leave us even further behind the 15% we have lost since austerity began. NHS staff will not be fooled.