A new pay offer for NHS staff in England has been put forward this afternoon following negotiations between unions and the government.
The proposed deal includes additional pay for 2022-23 and a pay settlement for 2023-24, and comes after strikes by nurses and other health staff since December.
“There are a series of commitments here that our members can see will make a positive impact”
For 2023-24, the government is offering NHS staff on Agenda for Change (AfC) contracts a 5% consolidated increase in pay.
Meanwhile, AfC staff are also being offered an additional one-off payment to the pay award they received for 2022-23.
The offer for 2022-23 includes a bonus that amounts to 2% of individuals’ salaries.
In addition, staff will get a “NHS backlog bonus” worth at least £1,250 per person but the actual amount will vary according to banding and experience.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said: “As a result of this package, a newly qualified nurse will see their salary go up by more than £2,750 over two years from 2021-22 to 2023-24.
“On top of this they will also receive over £1,890 in one-off payments this year.”
It pledged that the deal, if introduced, would not result in money being taken away from patient services.
In addition, the government has agreed with the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) to undertake work “to address the specific challenges faced by nursing staff – in terms of recruitment, retention and professional development”.
The DHSC said this would involve “how to take account of the changing responsibilities of nursing staff, and the design and implementation issues, including scope and legal aspects, of a separate pay spine for nursing staff exclusively”.
The new nursing pay spine would come into effect for the 2024-25 pay year.
In addition, the DHSC said it would “introduce measures to ensure safer staffing levels in hospitals”.
It also promised new work to reduce violence against NHS staff, and said it would permanently end pension penalties for former health service workers who come back for shifts after retirement.
Unions will consult their members on the offer, and the results will determine whether it is implemented.
The RCN and Unison are among the unions recommending that their members accept the package.
Strike action will continue to be paused while staff are consulted.
RCN general secretary and chief executive, Pat Cullen, said the offer was “not a panacea, but it is real tangible progress”.
She added: “After tough negotiations, there are a series of commitments here that our members can see will make a positive impact on the nursing profession, the NHS and the people who rely on it.
“Our members will have their say on it and I respect everybody’s perspective.”
“We have engaged in constructive and meaningful discussions with unions and NHS Employers”
Unison head of health Sara Gorton said it was a “shame” that NHS staff had to take industrial action in order to reach this point.
However, she said: “If accepted, the offer would boost pay significantly this year and mean a wage increase next year that’s more than the government had budgeted for.
“This is better than having to wait many more months for the NHS pay review body to make its recommendation.”
Meanwhile, Unite said it was not going to make a recommendation to its members on whether to accept or reject the offer.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “The offer from government is not one that Unite can recommend to our members, but ultimately it is important that our members make the final decision.
“Unite will support members in whichever decision they now make.”
The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) is recommending acceptance of the offer to its members.
Dr Suzanne Tyler, trade union executive director at the RCM, said: “This is a good deal won by the power of collective action by unions.
“It shows how this can bring about a better outcome not just for staff, but for the people they care for.
“Decently paid and well-resourced staff and services deliver better care, which is ultimately what we are all here for.”
Health and social care secretary Steve Barclay said the offer would give staff “a fair pay rise while protecting our commitment to halve inflation”.
“We have engaged in constructive and meaningful discussions with unions and NHS Employers and I look forward to continuing our work together to make the NHS a better place to work,” he added.