The Liberal Democrats have said they will ensure NHS workers are guaranteed future pay rises by at least the rate of inflation if they continue in government after the general election.
Party leader and deputy prime minister Nick Clegg said it was “time to end the era of pay restraint,” promising to guarantee all public sector workers pay rises that “keep pace with the cost of living” every year.
“The Liberal Democrats believe it is time to end the era of pay restraint”
He said he would ensure this happened from next year, by issuing guidance to public sector pay review bodies to improve pay at least in line with inflation in 2016-17 and 2017-18.
This would mean an expected minimum pay rise of £350 for a nurse earning £25,000 over the next two years.
In the years following, Mr Clegg said his party would ensure the pay review bodies went further by recommending increases in public sector wages that are above the rate of inflation.
Mr Clegg said: “Workers across the public sector have made enough sacrifices. You have done your bit to help get the country back on track.
“For two years pay in the public sector will, at the very least, keep pace with prices”
“That’s why the Liberal Democrats believe it is time to end the era of pay restraint,” he said.
He added: “For two years pay in the public sector will, at the very least, keep pace with prices. After that, we will make sure it rises above inflation – giving millions of workers a real terms pay rise for the first time in years.”
Responding to the announcement, Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “Nurses will be pleased to see their urgent need for an above-inflation pay rise highlighted by politicians.”
At a debate on health yesterday, health secretary Jeremy Hunt said the Conservatives could not, at present, guarantee a commitment to NHS pay increases at least in line with the rate of inflation.
Meanwhile, shadow health secretary Andy Burnham, speaking on behalf of Labour, said he agreed to it “as a principle”.
Reading this on your phone or tablet?
Nursing Times subscribers can now access the latest news affecting the nursing profession on the go with the Nursing Times app.