Nurses in Wales will not get the blanket 1% pay rise recommended by the pay review body, it was revealed yesterday.
However, under the long-awaited pay deal set out by the Welsh government, all NHS staff will earn at least the living wage of £7.65 per hour from September.
“This decision will be a deep disappointment to midwives and maternity support workers in Wales”
The change means about 2,400 of the lowest paid employees will get an increase of up to £470 in some cases.
Very senior managers will not get a pay rise. Meanwhile, all nursing staff on Agenda for Change contracts will get a one-off payment of £160 while those not yet at the top of their pay bands will still get an incremental pay rise when it is due.
Health minister Mark Drakeford said he had “no choice but to consider some form of pay restraint” in order to maintain jobs and services.
But he said the deal meant more than nine out of 10 NHS staff would get a pay award in 2014-15.
“It has been my intention that this should be implemented as fairly as possible and benefit as many staff as possible,” he said in a statement announcing the deal on Wednesday.
The Royal College of Nursing in Wales said it was disappointed the Welsh government had decided not to give all nurses a 1% pay rise.
However, David Wallace, RCN associate director for employment relations, said there were some “positives”, including the living wage pledge – something the college had been pushing for.
“There are some positives that we can take from this announcement – the fact that in the pay award there is something for everyone, whether that be incremental progression or pay rise,” he said.
“However, we are disappointed that the decision has not met the full recommendation of the pay body that nurses should receive a 1% pay increase,” he added.
“We will be considering the detail of the announcement with our members in the very near future.”
Jon Skewes, director for employment relations at the Royal College of Midwives, said: “This decision will be a deep disappointment to midwives and maternity support workers in Wales.
“It falls significantly short of the 1% increase recommended by the NHS Pay Review Body. Indeed this will mean for many midwives a fall in income as the cost of living rises and as pension contributions also have risen,” he said.
He added: “We will be consulting our members in Wales on this issue to canvass their opinions and look at the next possible steps to take.”
The Scottish government is the only UK government so far to accept the recommendations of the independent NHS Pay Review Body to award all staff a 1% consolidated increase.
The Northern Ireland government has yet to announce its arrangements.
Meanwhile, the decision taken by ministers in England to award the 1% increase only to those at the top of pay bands has sparked widespread fury among nurses and prompted healthcare unions Unite and Unison to consult their members about strike action.
For the first time the Royal College of Midwives consulted its members on industrial action over pay with an overwhelming majority indicating they were in favour of action of “some kind”.
However, the RCN has said it is not planning to ballot its members on strike action, instead opting to fight the pay decision “politically” by lobbying MPs and staging protests.