NHS unions endorse £52m pay package as the best that can be achieved through negotiation

An improved pay package worth £52m has been offered to the NHS trade unions in an attempt to avert a strike.

The revised offer is the result of weeks of discussion between NHS Employers, which represents trusts on workforce issues, the NHS trade unions and the UK health departments.

It will affect about a million non-medical staff on Agenda for Change pay bands.

Lower paid staff will be guaranteed an increase in salary of £400. Staff in higher pay bands will get 2.5% in salary plus an additional £38 towards professional fees.

The offer also includes a commitment to discuss a three-year pay deal.

Health service unions had been threatening to strike because of the below inflation pay increase offered.The original offer was a 2.5% staged pay increase with 1.5% payable from April 2007 and the balance from 1 November 2007.

Alastair Henderson, deputy director of NHS Employers, said: ‘We sought a deal to address concerns raised by various staff groups, that provides benefits across the workforce while remaining within the limits of the government’s public sector pay policy.”

Health secretary Alan Johnson endorsed the offer.

“This offer preserves the tough line on public sector pay which we have had to take this year but I believe that it will help low paid staff on the first rung of the career ladder, not only through improved pay, but also through help with training.”

Health service union Unison said it believed the offer to be the best that could be achieved through negotiation.

Should members reject the new deal, Unison warned they should also be prepared to support industrial action.

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