NHS Employers and the NHS Staff Council have agreed to a pay rise that includes a non-consolidated payment for the current year, and a 5% raise for 2023-24.
The non-consolidated payment for 2022-23 was agreed at between £1,655 and £3,789, equal to 8.2% for those in the lowest pay band, and approximately 6% for nurses, midwives and others on Band 5 of the Agenda for Change. This was introduced in addition to the £1,400 given to NHS staff in England in September 2022.
For next year, a raise of 5% was agreed, which would be worth at least £1,065, raising the hourly rate for the lowest-paid NHS England employees to £11.45 per hour, or £22,383 per year.
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The pay deal is projected to affect more than one million NHS employees. This followed a pay deal agreed with NHS Scotland staff in March 2023. A revised pay offer is also currently being considered by union members in Wales.
The NHS asked that the government implement the pay offer, including both the lump sum for 2022-23, and the new 2023-24 pay rates, in June salaries, so that employees can benefit as soon as possible.
The agreement was reached by a majority vote from the unions comprising the NHS Staff Council; however, the vote was not unanimous, and some unions, including Unite and the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) have warned of potential further strike action.
Sir Julian Hartley, chief executive of NHS Providers, said: “Despite this result, nobody can deny the scale of longstanding and mounting pressures facing staff, frontline services and the quality of care that they can give. We mustn’t forget that the various unions were not unanimous in their vote today, reflecting the strength of feeling among NHS staff.
“It is vital too that we see a sustainable, long-term workforce plan, fully costed and fully funded, to tackle chronic staff shortages, with a clear vision of how enough staff will be recruited and retained to meet ever-increasing demand.”
Matthew Taylor, chief executive of NHS Confederation, added: “So, while the NHS Staff Council outcome is very positive news overall, it is not the line in the sand that will allow the NHS and those relying on its care, to confidently move on from the threat of future strikes, or from the underlying issues affecting the NHS that led to this activity being felt as necessary in the first place.”
Danny Mortimer, chief executive at NHS Employers, said:“The decision by the NHS Staff Council Trade Unions to accept the pay offer they agreed with the government is very positive. It will be welcomed by NHS leaders whose teams will receive additional payments in relation to last year and a minimum 5% uplift for this financial year. Also, it commits employers and unions to working together to improve career development opportunities for NHS staff, as well improving retention and protection from violence.
“With four unions having rejected the pay deal individually for their members, we await confirmation of their plans. However, all unions, whether they have voted to accept the deal or not, as well as NHS leaders themselves, remain concerned about the impact of the cost of living on their members and colleagues, in addition to feeling worried about the present difficulties facing their patients and communities.
“The impending NHS workforce plan is an opportunity for the government to make clear its commitment to invest in staff numbers and development, and for employers to redouble their efforts to improve workplaces across the NHS. Employers are committed to working with unions and government to address these continued concerns, and to implement what we hope will be an ambitious and far-reaching plan for our people and patients.”
Sara Gorton, head of health at Unison and chair of the union group on the NHS Staff Council, said: “NHS workers will now want the pay rise they’ve voted to accept. The hope is that the one-off payment and salary increase will be in June’s pay packets.
“But health staff shouldn’t have needed to take action in the first place. Unions made clear to ministers last summer that £1,400 wasn’t enough to stop staff leaving the NHS, nor prevent strikes. But the government wouldn’t listen.
“Proper pay talks last autumn could have stopped health workers missing out on money they could ill afford to lose. The NHS and patients would also have been spared months of disruption.
“This pay deal must be the start of something new in the NHS. There cannot be a repeat of the past few months. Everyone who cares about the NHS deserves better. That means improving the process that sets health worker wages.
“The NHS remains desperately short of staff too. Services can only cope with growing demand if there’s a properly resourced and well-supported workforce. Government must now work with unions to achieve just that.”