Among the innumerable pay offers and awards across public services, there’s one that’s sure to have got your attention: the acceptance of a pay offer by the NHS Staff Council from the government to Agenda for Change Staff in England. After lengthy back and forth, proposed strikes, actual strike action and dates planned into the year (now cancelled), NHS Staff in England will be given a pay award to account for 22/23 and 23/24. The offer is thought to affect nearly a million people ambulance workers, nurses, physios and porters will also get a one-off sum of at least £1,655.
The next pay to be affected by these changes is the June pay packet – a likely delight for those looking to support children on school break. The payments for the 22/23 pay year (2022/23) are to be paid as a lump sum, and the new salary rates for this year (2023/24) will take effect from 1 April 2023 (with backpay for April and May pay). The Staff Council has an expectation that the NHS Pay Review Body pay-setting process will be set aside for this year.
Reacting to the announcement, Danny Mortimer, Chief Executive of 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 per cent 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”.
The pay deal was formally signed off at a meeting between the government and almost 15 unions representing NHS staff – though doctors and dentists have their own unions. Now that the pay offer has been signed off, the government have said it should expect unions to stop strikes – but three are continuing to threaten action. Unite currently has a strike planned which is thought to affect more of a local level in some ambulance services and a few hospitals. Discussing the pay award, the Health Secretary Steve Barclay said, "Where some unions may choose to remain in dispute, we hope their members - many of whom voted to accept this offer - will recognise this as a fair outcome that carries the support of their colleagues and decide it is time to bring industrial action to an end. We will continue to engage constructively with unions on workforce changes to ensure the NHS is the best place to work for staff, patients and taxpayers."
It remains to be seen what pay awards can be agreed between the RCN and the government who have been involved in historic striking action this year. This includes junior doctors who the BMA says deserves a near 35% pay rise to account for years of below inflation pay rises. Signing off on this agreed reward, however, Danny Mortimer, Chief Executive of NHS Employers, said, “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.