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Senior managers’ pay rise delayed until at least November

Published on: 20 Oct 2023

Senior managers will not get their 5 per cent pay uplift for 2023-24 until at least November, with unions describing a slow sign-off process as “making a mountain out of a molehill”. 

The government accepted the senior salaries review body’s recommendations in July, meaning very senior managers and executive senior managers should receive the uplift backdated to 1 April 2023. Further money – 0.5 per cent of the total pay bill – has been put aside to address “specific pay anomalies”. 

However, while more than 1 million Agenda for Change staff received their pay uplift on 1 June, senior managers are still waiting – more than four months on – after a delay in NHS England publishing its guidance on how to distribute the award, apparently caused by delays in government sign off.

HSJ understands Professor Em Wilkinson-Brice, NHSE’s national director for people, told leaders in late September the guidance would be published “in the next 24 hours”, but this did not materialise.

It is unclear what caused the delay in September. However, leaders were informed of the VSM pay guidance this week in a letter by Professor Wilkinson-Brice, seen by HSJ.

In particular, it states local remuneration committees have the discretion to implement an “across-the-board” pay increase for VSMs and whether to use the additional 0.5 per cent. 

The letter added further information on the implementation of a new VSM pay framework will be provided “in due course”.

Jon Restell, chief executive of the Managers in Partnership trade union, told HSJ that leaders were “understandably frustrated”, adding that, because of the delays in the guidance, the earliest VSMs would receive the pay rise was now November. 

“These delays demotivate staff and waste the time of employers. Where the government has accepted the recommendations of the SSRB, as it did this year, then this should be enough of a steer for trusts and their remuneration committees to make awards. We urge the government to allow this in future.

“Government always seems intent on making a mountain out of a molehill. We should get on with streamlining pay arrangements and being open about how pay is set, as recommended by the review body.

“Delays and confusion around the terms and conditions for a small group of senior staff undermines the leadership on which staff and patients rely.”

The Department of Health and Social Care has been approached for comment.