England & Wales' NHS Pay Rises Announced

Alan Jones & Tim Locke

July 21, 2021

Editor's note, 21 July 2021: This article was updated with new information.

NHS staff in England are to receive a 3% pay increase after a day of confusion ended with an announcement that the Government had accepted recommendations from the pay review body.

Wales has also accepted the recommendations.

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 3% 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.

England's 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 3% 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 9000 more nurses and over 4000 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 3% pay rise.”

Doctors' Pay

The BMA said it is "hugely disappointed" by the pay rise.

Council Chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: "It is disappointing that today’s announcement of a 3% pay uplift for doctors in England does not adequately recognise the extraordinary contribution of doctors working in the most challenging period in their professional loves. Doctors have risked their health, and some have even lost their lives as they have worked to treat patients and protect the nation against a deadly virus. Scores of doctors have not taken annual leave and have worked extra hours without pay as they served the nation. Now they face a gruelling year ahead with millions of patients on waiting lists, and the country in the midst of another COVID-19 wave.  

"Our members have been left exhausted, burned out and on the verge of physical and mental breaking point by the past 18 months. Junior doctors and GPs on multi-year pay deals in England have given just as much of themselves as all doctors  to care for their patients – and yet have been callously disregarded in this pay award and will receive less than their peers. In All doctors, including those on multi-year pay deals, have given the same care to their patients. In recognition the Government should now ensure they are all given the same fair pay uplift and it is something we will be calling upon Government to review and think again in the coming days."

BMA Consultants Committee Chair Elect Dr Vishal Sharma said: "Although today’s announcement is testament to the thousands of our members who made their views crystal clear when the Government first suggested giving a paltry 1% uplift in March, it still falls short of the at least 5% uplift that the BMA’s consultants committee had called for, and given the predicted rates of inflation, it should be seen for what it is - another effective pay cut. It is extremely disappointing that the Government has once again failed to address the long-term pay erosion that consultants in England have faced over the last decade."

The chair of the Junior Doctors Committee, Dr Sarah Hallett, said: "The burden shouldered by junior doctors during the pandemic has been immense, and therefore the Government’s decision to exclude them from the pay uplift announced today is nothing short of insulting." 

DHSC said the pay review body "was not asked to make pay recommendations for those Specialty and Associate Specialist (SAS) doctors who have transferred over to the new SAS contract, or doctors and dentists in training, as these groups are in respective multi-year pay and contract reform deals.

It said the SAS deal "offers doctors faster progression to the top of the pay scales with meaningful increases at each progression point. The introduction of a new senior SAS grade improves opportunities for career progression. The agreement also introduces safeguards and additional annual leave to support health and wellbeing."

It said GPs are subject to a 5-year investment agreement (to 2023/24) between NHS England and the British Medical Association (BMA) and therefore no pay recommendation has been sought for GP contractors.

'Shambolic'

The Royal College of Nursing described the announcement as “shambolic”.

In a statement to the PA news agency, RCN interim General Secretary and Chief Executive Pat Cullen said: “After a shambolic day, comes a shambolic announcement. When the Treasury expects inflation to be 3.7%, 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.

“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. We will be consulting our members on what action they would like to take next.”

Jon Skewes, Executive Director for External Affairs at the Royal College of Midwives, said: "We are disappointed that maternity staff in England will not receive a headline increase of 4% like their colleagues in Scotland. Through our evidence to the Pay Review Body, we managed to secure more than the 1% proposed by the Government, but again this is not backdated far enough or on par with the pay award in Scotland."

Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers and deputy chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: "This is a positive outcome for NHS staff and, importantly is above the proposed 1% uplift which many felt was insufficient, but this will need to be fully funded. Our members believe that this pay award is well deserved recognition for the continued efforts of our workforce and their hard work, in particular over the last 16 months in incredibly challenging circumstances." 

He added: "The pay award will be welcomed by employers at a time when funding and services are stretched to unprecedented levels, and organisations continue to grapple with the rise in demand for care, but it will be important to understand the funding detail."

British Dental Association Deputy Chair Peter Crooks said: “An uplift on the right side of inflation is progress. A decade of pay restraint has taken its toll, and we can never return to recommendations that fail to reflect the cost of living."

'Increase Falls Short'

Unison General Secretary Christina McAnea said the pay award was “an improvement” on the Government’s “earlier, miserly 1% 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.”

The GMB union said the “insulting” 3% pay rise offer had been “sneaked out as MPs are packing up for summer holidays”.

Rachel Harrison, GMB national officer, said: “Hospitals and ambulance services are operating under extreme pressures due to rising demand and staffing shortages.

“Now, rather than focusing on staff welfare they are being advised to enter the workplace against self-isolation advice and now given this frankly appalling pay offer.

“This was the opportunity for Government to turn their clapping into genuine recognition. Their response is paltry. They have failed spectacularly.

“NHS workers know their worth and so do the public – shame on the Government who don’t.”

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: "NHS staff and their unions, together with massive public support, have forced the Government to abandon their plan to give our NHS workers a real-terms pay cut."

Wales

Wales' Health Minister Eluned Morgan said: "Once again, I want to thank our Welsh NHS staff for their extraordinary efforts over the course of this pandemic. Many staff have worked extremely long hours under enormous pressure.

“This pay rise recognises the dedication and commitment of hardworking NHS staff and the enormous contribution they have made. It is also a recognition of how valued they are by Welsh communities."

The Welsh Government said the UK Treasury hadn't yet provided information about whether any additional funding will be provided to cover the cost of the recommended pay rises above the previous 1% cap. The Health Minister said current budgets would be prioritised to enable the deal to be implemented.

This article contains information from PA Media.

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