NHS staff in Wales will receive a 1% pay increase, with the lowest earners receiving an uplift to the “living wage”, the Welsh government has announced today.
As a result, there will be a 1% consolidated pay increase for all Agenda for Change staff in NHS Wales, including nurses, for 2017-18.
More than 7,000 of the lowest paid employees will also see an uplift to £8.45 an hour, in line with the Living Wage Foundation’s living wage.
Nursing staff are unlikely to be happy with another 1% pay rise after a number of years of similar deals, with unions highlighting that they are not keeping pace with the increasing cost of living at a time when remuneration is seen by some as key to recruitment and retention.
However, Welsh health secretary Vaughan Gething said he had accepted the recommendations of the independent NHS pay review body, which comes to a view after taking evidence from both the government and unions.
He said: “I am pleased that I am able to award pay increases in line with the independent pay review bodies’ pay recommendations and to demonstrate our ongoing commitment to staff working in the NHS in Wales.
“I am also committed to working in social partnership with employers and those representing NHS staff to consider the way forward on the other issues the pay review bodies raised,” he said.
He added: “I remain committed to tackling the issue of low pay in Wales and will ensure the lowest earners in NHS Wales are paid a fair salary.”
Salary increases from 1 April for 2017-18 are:
- 1% consolidated pay increase for all Agenda for Change staff in NHS Wales
- 1% increase for salaried doctors and dentists
- 1% increase will be applied to the value of Clinical Excellence Awards
- 1% increase will be applied to the value of Commitment Awards
- 1% increase to the value of the GP trainers’ grant
- 1% increase for independent contractor General Medical Practitioners and General Dental Practitioners
- 1% salary increase for NHS senior executives, their first pay award since 2009
The announcement about Wales, follows the similar revelation on Friday that a 1% pay increase had been confirmed for all NHS Scotland staff for the fourth year in a row.
The Scottish government added that anyone earning up to £22,000 would also receive an additional sum to increase their pay by at least £400.
The announcements for Wales and Scotland are likely to pave the way for a similar arrangement for England.
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Responding to the Welsh government announcement, the Royal College of Nursing noted its disappointment at another below inflation pay rise but welcomed the continued involvement of the NHS pay review body.
Peter Meredith-Smith, RCN Wales associate director for employment relations, said: “We are disappointed to see that NHS staff in Wales, who are bearing the brunt of relentless frontline pressures, have yet again been awarded a pay rise that is below inflation.
“This means the significant and continuous erosion of the wages of NHS staff and our members that has occurred over several years persists, with pay restraints being increasingly strained since 2010,” he said.
“An increase such as this does not match the dedication and hard work that our NHS workforce provides to patients in Wales each and every day,” said Mr Meredith-Smith.
But he welcomed that the government had followed the recommendations of the independent pay review body and the announcement of continuing support for the lowest paid staff within NHS Wales by its decision to uplift the rate of pay to that of the living wage.
He also noted that, while the review body provided independent advice to the UK governments on overarching pay rates, there are other mechanisms through which NHS Wales pay and terms and conditions could be agreed in partnership, such as the Strategic Pay Sub Group of the Welsh Partnership Forum.
“The RCN in Wales looks forward to engaging in the work of that group to seek opportunities to protect and improve the terms and conditions of our dedicated and hard-working NHS staff across Wales,” he said.
More reaction and analysis to follow…