Government puts forward 3% pay uplift for NHS nurses in England – Nursing Times

‘This is a situation that cannot go on indefinitely’
23 February, 2022 By
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The government has recommended a 3% pay uplift for NHS nurses and other health workers in England for 2022-23.
In written evidence submitted by the Department of Health and Social Care to the NHS Pay Review Body for this year’s pay round, it said there was an “affordable headline pay award of up to 3%” available for NHS staff on Agenda for Change (AfC) contracts.
“This substandard amount will convince many it’s time to part company with the NHS”
Sara Gorton
This comprised the 2% set out in the NHS Long Term Plan back in 2019, plus an extra 1% “contingency” the government said it was “choosing to make available for AfC pay”.
The DHSC flagged that the NHS budget, which has been set until 2024-25, had been “fixed to prioritise investments which will enable the NHS to tackle the elective backlog, grow the NHS workforce, continue the fight against Covid-19 and deliver the Long Term Plan”.
It added that there was “extremely limited room for any further investment in pay”, given the recent increase to National Insurance Contributions of 1.25%.
This meant that to achieve the objectives above, “financial restraint on pay is needed”, said the DHSC in its evidence.
The union Unison was among the first to condemn the 3% recommendation, describing it as a “substandard amount” that would drive more staff out of the NHS.
Unison’s head of health, Sara Gorton, said: “This tight-fisted proposal falls well short of rising costs and staff hopes.”
She added that it was “barely half the rate of inflation” and would “go down like a lead balloon” among the health workforce. “It would be a wage cut in all but name,” stressed Ms Gorton.
The NHS in England is already almost 40,000 nurses short and, following this pay recommendation, Ms Gorton suggested that the staff shortages may worsen.
“Nurses, healthcare assistants, hospital porters and others have borne a heavy responsibility during the pandemic,” she said.
“Now government expects the NHS team to work miracles with the Covid backlog, despite the growing staffing void.
“Holding down health worker wages won’t stop the inflation spiral,” she said. “But it would mean floods of NHS staff quitting for less stressful, more lucrative jobs.”

Sara Gorton
Ms Gorton added: “Staff feel so dispirited, many already have one foot out the door.
“This substandard amount will convince many it’s time to part company with the NHS.”
She urged the government to “do far better and come up with enough cash for a proper wage rise that stems the staffing flight and ensures safe, quality care for patients”.
Last year, the DHSC had recommended an increase of just 1% for NHS staff, but the final delayed pay award for those in England, Wales and Northern Ireland turned out to be 3%.
Meanwhile, NHS nurses in Scotland saw an average increase of around 4%.
In recent months, the Royal College of Nursing has held several indicative ballots that have revealed nurses’ upset and anger at last year’s award. It also criticised the government’s submission to the pay review body.
RCN general secretary and chief executive, Pat Cullen, said: “This document shows the UK government is not serious about tackling the nursing workforce crisis, retaining expert and experienced nursing or making patient care safer.
“Failing to pay a fair wage is a false economy: we know that many are thinking of quitting the profession and anything less than what they deserve will not prevent an exodus from a safety critical profession,” she said.
“The elephant in the room seems to be the spiralling cost of living,” she said. “By not acknowledging it, they are signalling to staff that their pay will just fall even further behind inflation.”
She added: “This deeply unambitious starting point for the next pay round will not help the much needed recovery of services.”
Meanwhile, in January, Northern Ireland’s health minister Robin Swann announced an additional one-off pay increase backdated to April 2021 for the country’s nurses.
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