The government will implement the pay deal it has agreed with Agenda for Change unions, with staff due to receive payments in the summer, it has announced.
As predicted by HSJ on Friday, the majority of the NHS Staff Council voted to accept the pay offer during a meeting today.
In response, the health secretary Steve Barclay issued a statement and said it demonstrates the “majority of NHS staff agree this is a fair and reasonable deal” and that it was his intention to implement the pay award for “all staff on the Agenda for Change contract”.
His department said in a statement: ”We plan for staff to receive this in their pay packets this summer.”
This will include the impact of the 2023-24 uplift (of 5 per cent), pay increase for 2023-24; and two one-off uplifts for 2022-23: a one-off 2 per cent increase, and a separate one-off “NHS backlog bonus”, which varies by pay band.
In reference to the minority of unions whose members voted against the deal (which include the Royal College of Nursing and Unite), Mr Barclay added: “Where some unions may choose to remain in dispute, we hope their members – many of whom voted to accept this offer – will recognise this as a fair outcome that carries the support of their colleagues and decide it is time to bring industrial action to an end.”
The RCN wrote to Mr Barclay shortly after this decision today, to reiterate its ongoing opposition to the negotiated deal, stating: “Later this month, we will ballot 280,000 members in England’s NHS over further strike action to be held between June and December 2023.”
Its chief executive officer Pat Cullen said it “remains in formal dispute with the government and the NHS” and called for an offer that matches nurses’ “true value”.
This will be an “aggregated ballot… which, if supported by a sufficient number of RCN members, would provide the legal mandate to take strike action across the full [English] NHS”, it confirned. “Until this point, our strike action has been in approximately 50 per cent of NHS trusts.” The RCN initially recommended its members accept the pay offer, which was negotiated in March between unions and government, but 54 per cent of them rejected it.
The deal does not cover doctors or very senior managers, who are on separate pay frameworks.
Unison head of health Sara Gorton, who chairs the union group on the NHS staff council, called for the back-dated uplift to be paid to staff in June pay packets.
She stressed that “proper pay talks” last autumn could have prevented “months of disruption”, and said the pay deal “must be the start of something new”.
“There cannot be a repeat of the past few months. Everyone who cares about the NHS deserves better. That means improving the process that sets health worker wages,” she said.
NHS Employers CEO Danny Mortimer described the decision to accept the pay deal as “very positive”, since staff will get more pay, and because it commits employers and unions to working together to improve working conditions.
Mr Mortimer said: “With four unions having rejected the pay deal individually for their members, we await confirmation of their plans.
“However, all unions, whether they have voted to accept the deal or not, as well as NHS leaders themselves, remain concerned about the impact of the cost of living on their members and colleagues, in addition to feeling worried about the present difficulties facing their patients and communities.”