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‘Final straw’ as band 8 and 9 staff get ‘disgusting’ pay rise

Published on: 20 Jul 2022

Senior NHS staff on Agenda for Change pay bands 8 and 9 will receive much lower pay rises than those given to the majority of staff, including very senior managers, as a result of yesterday’s pay announcements, it has emerged.

A staff member at the top of Agenda for Change band 8a will receive a pay rise of 2.6 per cent, while someone at the top of band 9 will see their pay go up by just 1.3 per cent. 

In its recommendations to ministers, the review body covering Agenda for Change staff acknowledged “recruiting and retaining leadership talent remains a challenge for the NHS” but said “issues were different in the lower, middle and higher pay bands”. Under the proposals, which have been accepted by government, band 6 and 7 staff will see their £1,400 award “enhanced” so they are guaranteed a 4 per cent uplift. The award is not adjusted further up the pay scale, meaning the increase drops to between 2.6 and 1.5 per cent for band 8, and 1.3 per cent at the top of band 9.

In contrast, very senior managers, whose pay is set by a separate review body, are set to receive a 3.5 per cent uplift  after it concluded that “another pay pause this year or an unduly low settlement would be inappropriate”.

Most doctors and dentists will receive an increase of 4.5 per cent, as recommended by the Doctors’ and Dentists’ Pay Review Body.

Jon Restell, chief executive of Managers in Partnership, warned the real-terms pay cut could be the “final straw” for members considering their future in the health service. He told HSJ: “Ultimately this award isn’t good enough for staff at all levels, but it’s especially raw for managers. We’ll be balloting our members in due course so they can have their full say on this paltry offer.”

Mr Restell added: “Ministers can dress up this award as much as they like, but inflation is 9.4 per cent so it wipes at least 7 per cent from band 8 and 9 salaries in real terms.

“Last night our members told us that the award was ‘gutting’ and ‘disgusting’, and that they feel ‘completely demoralised’. They are significantly worse off now than before the pandemic, despite all their efforts to keep the health service running the last two years. It’s not good enough.

“Many were already considering their futures in the health service, and this pay cut might just be the final straw. These staff are critical for recovery, transformation and frontline staff engagement. If I were an NHS trust, I’d be offering overtime pay – currently not paid to bands 8 and 9 – to show these staff they are indeed valued.”

The wider pay deal is expected to cost the NHS as much as £1.8bn from within existing budgets after the Treasury said it would not fund awards over 3 per cent.

Treasury minister Simon Clarke defended the wider awards today, arguing that going further on public sector pay could “entrench expectations” of rises across the economy and drive higher inflation. But the Institute for Fiscal Studies warned earlier this month that the decade-long policy of compressing pay at senior levels could affect the quality of public services.