NHS staff in England are to receive a three per cent pay increase after a day of confusion ended with an announcement that the Government had accepted recommendations from the pay review body.
An expected Commons statement at lunchtime failed to materialise, but a few hours later the Department for Health and Social Care issued a press release saying a three per cent rise will be paid, backdated to April when the increase was due.
It will be paid to staff including nurses, paramedics, consultants, dentists and salaried GPs.
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 asked the independent pay review bodies for their recommendations and I’m pleased to accept them in full, with a three per cent pay rise for all staff in scope, from doctors and nurses to paramedics and porters.
“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. I will continue to do everything I can to support all those in our health service who are working so tirelessly to care for patients.”
Minister for care Helen Whately said: “I am determined to make the NHS the best place to work for all our staff and we continue to invest in recruitment and retention with over 45,300 more staff in the NHS now compared to a year ago, including nearly 9,000 more nurses and over 4,000 more doctors.
“Our NHS staff have worked incredibly hard to fight the pandemic for over 18 months and I’m glad to confirm we are accepting the pay review body’s recommendations in full this year, so staff in their remit will receive a three per cent pay rise.”
Some unions, including the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), described the sum as “shambolic” and “insulting”. The RCN added that “the profession will not take this lying down”.
Nurses also hit out at the rise. In anticipation of the announcement, around a dozen nurses and members of the Royal College of Nursing gathered in Victoria Tower Gardens, near Parliament, where they held placards and banners calling for a pay increase of 12.5%.
Kafeelat Adekunle, 55, a community matron with Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust in London, described the pay rise as “mad”.
“I’m not happy,” she said. “They’re not listening, that’s the whole problem. This is just to try and stop us from doing industrial action, just to keep us quiet, keep us shushed.
“I’m not so sure this is really nice, instead this is going to make us more angry and confidence is going to go in the Government.
“The contribution from nurses and health workers during the pandemic has been enormous. People have died. My colleagues died. This is really discouraging news.”
Unison said it was pleased the Government had moved from its initial recommendation of a one per cent pay rise, but added that staff deserved more.
General secretary Christina McAnea said the pay award was “an improvement” on the Government’s “earlier, miserly one per cent proposal”.
She added: “But the increase falls short of what NHS staff deserve after the past 16 months. It’s less than the wage rise given to Scottish health colleagues and not enough to protect the NHS.
“Porters, cleaners, nurses, paramedics and other health workers have waited for months for what they hoped would be a fair deal.
“Ministers could have paid up last year if they really valued the NHS. Instead, staff have been made to hang on until the summer – long after their wage rise was due.”
Pat Cullen, interim general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “After a shambolic day, comes a shambolic announcement.
“When the Treasury expects inflation to be 3.7 per cent, ministers are knowingly cutting pay for an experienced nurse by over £200 in real-terms.
“Hospitals and other parts of the NHS are struggling to recruit nurses and healthcare support workers. The Government has been warned that many more are on the verge of leaving. With today’s decision, ministers have made it even harder to provide safe care to patients.
“This announcement is light on detail. It must be fully funded with additional monies for the NHS and ringfenced for the workforce bill.”
Shadow health minister Justin Madders said: “Another day, another U-turn, and more chaos and confusion from this Government.
“Once again, this Government has had to row back on a shoddy, ill-thought through position, with their 1% pay rise – a real terms pay cut – rejected by the independent pay body.
“The pay review body has done what ministers could and would not do – recognise that our NHS staff absolutely cannot be given a pay cut.
“After their hypocrisy, applauding NHS workers while trying to cut their pay, the Government must make our NHS and key workers feel supported and valued after all they have done for us.”