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NHS Staff Offered 3% Pay Rise By Government After Shambolic Announcement Left Unions "Furious"

3 min read

NHS workers have been offered a 3% pay rise by government following a shambolic afternoon where care minister Helen Whately failed to give details of the proposed pay award, sparking outcry from unions.

The government was accused of "shameful" behaviour after Whately failed to make the much anticipated announcement. 

This evening health secretary Sajid Javid confirmed the award would be 3% for NHS staff including nurses, paramedics, consultants, and dentists in England, backdated to April 2021, after the government accepted the recommendations of the independent NHS Pay Review Body (NHSPRB) and the Review Body for Doctors’ and Dentists’ Renumeration (DDRB).

For the average nurse, this will mean an additional £1,000 a year, while many porters and cleaners will receive around £540, according to the government.

“NHS staff are rightly receiving a pay rise this year despite the wider public sector pay pause, in recognition of their extraordinary efforts," Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said.

"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."

However the 3% offer is likely to anger many NHS staff and unions who have long called for a greater increase to match the expected inflation rise of 4% predicted by the Bank of England.

Nursing union the RCN has recommended a 12.5% increase to pay as reward for their work throughout the Covid pandemic. 

Shadow health minister Dr Rosena Allin-Khan questioned Whateley today in the Commons after her statement in which no increase had been announced as was widely expected. Allin-Khan also questioned why the initial offer by the government had been only 1%. 

"Once again we find this government has had to row back on a shoddy, ill-thought-through position with their 1% pay rise – a real terms pay cut, rejected by the independent pay body," she told the Commons. 

"So what did the government do? Nothing. Less than an hour ago there were competing briefings on what the deal was going to be but it turned out to be nothing.

“Our NHS staff deserve better than this."

In a strong rebuke of the Tory minister, Dr Khan, who has worked A&E shifts during the pandemic, questioned the fairness of no new pay update for NHS staff.

"Is this really fair on NHS staff who have been sent like lambs to the slaughter without appropriate PPE to work throughout this pandemic? And that is using their words.”

Whately said that the government was still considering recommendations from NHS pay review bodies and that the government would be responding as soon possible. After an afternoon of angry comments from a range of trade unions, the government made their announcement at 6pm.

The minister also said she was "shocked by some of the language" used by Dr Allin-Khan, adding what is said in the Commons has “ripples beyond this chamber, and so the tone of what we say is extremely important”.

Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Munira Wilson said the government had "bottled it" by not making the announcement this afternoon, when expected. 

Unions representing NHS bodies have reacted with fury. The Royal College of Nursing accused ministers of being "shameful" for delaying the pay award.

“This treatment of our NHS workers is shameful," RCN Interim General Secretary and Chief Executive, Pat Cullen, said.

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