NHS workers in England offered 3% pay rise

Picture of healthcare staff in intensive care

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Nurses and other NHS workers in England have been offered a 3% pay rise by government “in recognition of unique impact of the pandemic” on staff.

It comes after heavily criticised proposals made by the Department for Health and Social Care in March said only a rise of 1% was affordable.

But some health unions opposed the new figure saying it does not reflect the sacrifices made by staff.

They point out the NHS workforce has been under unprecedented pressure.

The rise in pay for healthcare workers follows a public sector pay freeze for 2021-22, announced by the government in November, with exceptions made for those on salaries under £24,000 and NHS staff.

The 3% pay rise is for most NHS staff including nurses, paramedics, consultants, dentists and salaried GPs and is backdated to April 2021.

According to government calculations for the average nurse, this will mean an additional £1,000 a year, while many porters and cleaners will receive around £540.

‘Extraordinary efforts’

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “NHS staff are rightly receiving a pay rise this year despite the wider public sector pay pause, in recognition of their extraordinary efforts.

“We will back the NHS as we focus our efforts on getting through this pandemic and tackling the backlog of other health problems that has built up.”

NHS pay rises are negotiated by independent pay-review bodies that look at evidence from a range of groups before making recommendations to the government.

The pay rise does not include doctors and dentists in training who have their own separate, multi-year contracts.

In making the final decision the government will have factored in the impact of the pandemic on both the economy and the NHS.

Currently almost half the NHS’s budget goes on staffing costs – a total of £56.1bn.

‘Immense sacrifices’

Unison general secretary Christina McAnea said the increase, though an improvement on the initial offer, fell short of what NHS staff deserved.

“The government has failed to show staff just how valued they are to us all.

“There’s a risk many may not stay around to see the NHS through the pandemic and the clearing of the Covid backlog.”

Meanwhile, Unite national officer for health Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe, said: “If the pay-review body is recommending a 3% pay rise, it is a small step forward on the insulting 1% the government offered in March.

“However, this recommendation in no way recognises the 19% drop in real earnings that many NHS workers have endured in the last decade, nor the immense sacrifices that health staff have and are continuing to make as Covid infection rates rapidly rise again.”

And the chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing, Pat Cullen, said the announcement was “light on detail.”

She added: “Nursing staff will remain dignified in responding to what will be a bitter blow to many. But the profession will not take this lying down.”

In theory, the pay-review bodies make recommendations for NHS staff across the UK – but it is up to the individual UK nations to decide whether to accept them.

In Scotland, most NHS staff have already been offered a 4% pay rise (backdated to December 2020). This follows a one-off Covid payment for health and social care staff of £500.