Health and social care secretary Steve Barclay confirmed in a written Parliamentary statement today that ministers were accepting the Senior Salaries Review Body’s recommendations, meaning very senior managers and executive senior managers would receive the uplift backdated to 1 April 2023.
The government has also committed to 0.5 per cent of the total pay bill for senior managers in each organisation being set aside to address “specific pay anomalies”, as it did last year. This is an apparent reference to some staff on the highest Agenda for Change bands overtaking their managers, partly due to senior managers’ pay having previously been frozen.
However, the government has said it will not be providing additional funding to cover higher pay for different staff groups, raising the prospect of NHS England having to find the cash from existing budgets.
In its report, the SSRB said the pay framework for leaders needed “urgent reform”, adding it had taken “much too long” to address. The framework has been in development for more than a year.
The report also criticised delays in passing on last year’s pay rise, saying paying senior staff on time “is a prerequisite for valuing them properly”.
The report said of its 5 per cent rise recommendation: “Overall, this represents a strained operating and leadership environment.
“NHS leaders are required to solve the challenges of both the post-pandemic backlog and the new delivery methods but are inhibited from doing so by the overwhelming demands of day-to-day delivery and the need to focus on short-term resourcing issues…
“A pay increase for this important strategic group should be high enough to signal that these leaders are valued and to keep pace with changes to pay for executives in the wider market. We take account of the enormous demands that are being made of NHS leadership.”
The independent panel added the time DHSC took to sign off salaries was “unnecessarily long” and having a “direct operational impact”.
The government did not, however, accept a call to approve or reject senior salary proposals within four weeks of them being submitted. Mr Barclay said he agreed improvements were needed but said the department needed “sufficient time to review and scrutinise any bid we receive”.
Inflation is currently 8.7 per cent. Doctors have been given a 6 per cent rise this year; while Agenda for Change staff are receiving a 5 per cent uplift as part of a two-year pay deal struck in the spring.
Jon Restell, CEO of Managers in Partnership, welcomed the deal but said it would not “reverse the decade-long decline in boardroom salaries.” He said the union had surveyed members and found “diminishing morale, recruitment and retention difficulties and pay overlap anomalies with NHS Agenda for Change staff.”
He added: “We are also concerned that this pay award will only be partly funded, with the shortfall expected to come out of existing budgets. The NHS has already gone through a number of ‘efficiency’ programmes to cut costs at the behest of the government.
“MiP urge the government to carefully consider the potential consequences of not fully funding this award and offer assurances it will not impact the NHS’s ability to provide the high standards of care expected of it.”
Updated 21.12 to include MiP comment.