Over a million hospital cleaners, nurses, security guards, physiotherapists, emergency call handlers, paramedics, midwives, radiographers and other NHS staff across England will now benefit from a three-year pay deal, say health unions today (Friday).
Since March when the offer was first made, the 14 unions have been asking NHS staff whether they want to accept or reject the proposed pay rise, which would mean a 6.5% increase for most staff over the next three years, with more for the lowest paid.
With the results of these consultation exercises and online ballots now in, unions announced at a meeting today that health workers have voted overwhelmingly to accept the deal. NHS staff should now get the money in their July pay packets, backdated from April.
The NHS pay agreement – reached after months of negotiation between unions, employers and ministers – has been made possible with an extra £4.2bn of government funding. It means that there will be no negative impact on services or patients as a result of the increase in the NHS pay bill.
The decision to accept the deal means a significant wage boost for the lowest paid workers in the NHS. Hospital caterers, porters, administrators and other staff on the lowest grades can now look forward to a wage rise of more than £2,000 this year (an 11-13% increase).
Every NHS worker in England will now be paid at least £8.93 an hour (18p above the real living wage of £8.75), or £17,460 if they work full-time.
Commenting on the pay deal, lead health union negotiator and UNISON head of health Sara Gorton said: “The agreement won’t solve all the NHS’ problems overnight, but it will go a long way towards easing the financial strain suffered by health staff and their families over many years.
“The lifting of the damaging one per cent cap on pay will come as a huge relief for all the employers who’ve struggled for so long to attract new recruits and hold onto experienced staff.
“But this three year pay deal must not be a one off. Health workers will want to know that ministers are committed to decent wage rises across the NHS for the long term, and that this isn’t just a quick fix.
“Most importantly the extra funding means the pay rise won’t be at the expense of services or patient care. Now the government has begun to put right the damage inflicted by its mean-spirited pay policies, staff will be hoping ministers announce an injection of cash for NHS services in time for its 70th birthday next month.”
Senior health union negotiator and Royal College of Nursing associate director for employment relations Josie Irwin said: “Today’s deal gives a much-needed pay rise to over a million people and, at a time when there are 40,000 unfilled nurse jobs in England alone, it should help to make the profession more attractive to current and future nurses alike.
“By standing together, the NHS unions were able to reject all unpalatable demands to cut annual leave or unsocial hours payments and get the best possible deal from a government still committed to austerity.
“We have taken a significant step on the journey towards fairer pay for NHS staff but there is much more to achieve, not least for the staff who deliver NHS services outside direct employment. The government would be mistaken if it thought today’s deal was the end, rather than the beginning, of that journey.”
It is expected that additional funding will now be made available through the Barnett formula for health budgets in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, allowing pay negotiations to take place for health workers there.
Notes to editors:
– The agreement will see major changes to pay structures in the NHS. Band one will disappear by April 2021, when £18,005 will become the lowest full-time salary. This, combined with the cost of living increases, mean that more than 100,000 of the lowest paid health workers will get wage rises over the next three years of between 15% (£2,300) and 17% (£2,600).
– The pay structure changes will see most staff moving to the top of their pay bands more quickly, and an end to band overlapping, where some on lower bands were earning more than their senior colleagues.
– Most health workers already at the top of their bands will get 6.5% between April 2018 and April 2020 – 3% in 2018, 1.7% and a 1.1% lump sum in April 2019, and 1.7% from April 2020.
– The unions whose members voted to accept the agreement are: the British Association of Occupational Therapists, the British Dietetic Association, the British Orthoptic Society, the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, the Federation of Clinical Scientists, Managers in Partnership, POA, the Royal College of Midwives, the Royal College of Nursing, the Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists, the Society of Radiographers, UNISON and Unite. The GMB voted to reject the offer.
– Results of the individual unions’ consultations will be available on their websites.
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The article One million NHS staff across England to get a pay rise first appeared on the UNISON National site.