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Government confirms 1% pay rise for NHS staff in 2016-17


Nurses and midwives are to receive a 1% pay rise in April, after the government accepted recommendations for the salary increase made by the independent body that advises on NHS pay awards in the UK.

It means all NHS staff in England on Agenda for Change pay bands – including nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants – will receive the increase for 2016 to 2017, dependent on whether unions also accept it.

“It’s disappointing that the PRB has stuck to the artificial 1% freeze imposed by the chancellor”

Christina McAnea

It follows an announcement last summer by chancellor George Osborne that it was his intention that pay rises for public sector workers in England would be restricted to a maximum of 1% for the next four years – and comes shortly before his next budget statement on 16 March.

However, the NHS Pay Review Body said its recommendations were “informed but not constrained” by public sector pay policy and ongoing affordability pressures.

It said it accepted all NHS providers were under financial pressure and that “some form of pay restraint is inevitable”.

A prolonged period of lower pay settlements did not appear to have resulted in widespread recruitment and retention issues, said the body, noting a backdrop of low inflation rates and a “modest” economic recovery.

The Scottish government and Northern Ireland Executive have also both accepted the recommendation for a 1% pay increase. A spokesman for the Welsh Government said it was considering the review body’s recommendations.

Scotland’s health secretary Shona Robison described the salary boost as “modest”, but noted it followed cuts to the country’s budget by the UK government.

Northern Ireland’s health minister Simon Hamilton said: “This will be challenging in what are tough budgetary times but I am clear that it is an appropriate award for our hard working staff, who I am sure will warmly welcome this decision.”

But unions have described the decision as “disappointing” and said the boost did not make up for shortfalls in NHS pay over the past few years.

Unison said the 1% pay increase falls “way below what health workers need and years after years of pay cuts”.

Christina McAnea, Unison head of health, said: “It’s disappointing for NHS workers that the PRB has stuck to the artificial 1% freeze imposed by the chancellor.

“A 1% award does not make up for the shortfall in the pay awards over previous years”

Jon Skewes

“Government pay policies since 2010 have seen most health staff lose thousands in real terms – nurses are down more than £4,700 since then,” she said, adding that the union would now consult its member on the 1% pay rise.

Janet Davies, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “It is encouraging that the government has accepted the PRB’s recommendations but the fact remains that pay awards for NHS staff since 2010 have been severely constrained.   

“Nurses have been telling the Government that they are struggling to make ends meet, and are asking themselves if they can afford to continue nursing,” she said. “Their warnings have repeatedly fallen on deaf ears. 

“More and more nurses and health care assistants are being forced to consider their future in the profession that they love. Nurses cannot afford for this to continue, and neither can the health service,” said Ms Davies.

George Osborne 182

George Osborne 182

George Osborne 

The Royal College of Midwives said that while a 1% salary boost recognised the hard work and dedication of NHS staff, it was “not good enough”.

Jon Skewes, director for policy, employment relations, policy and communications at the RCM, said: “A 1% award does not make up for the shortfall in the pay awards over previous years, when the government have ignored the PRB recommendations.”

“We need to see the government let the PRB operate independently and make recommendations based on the evidence and the real cost of living, without restraint, and not constrained by the government’s public sector pay policy, as is still the case,” he added.

Unite assistant general secretary for public services, Gail Cartmail, claimed “hardworking and dedicated” public sector workers were “whipping boys” for the government’s austerity agenda.

“It is small wonder that the NHS staff are leaving the health service for better pay and work/life balance either in the private sector or abroad,” she said.

She added: “As a consequence, billions of pounds are being spent on agency staff to plug the gaps. This is no way to run the NHS.”

A Department of Health spokesman said: “It is thanks to the care, quality and dedication of NHS staff we are beginning to deliver a safer seven-day NHS for patients.

“And in line with the rest of the public sector, we are pleased to announce that all NHS staff will receive a 1% pay increase next year,” she said.


Readers' comments (20)

  • Agree with Carol! The stresses of being a nurse, being unable to look after oneself, and missing numerous social occasions is no way reflected in our salary.
    There is no incentive for being a nurse. No bonuses like most other graduate jobs.
    Poorly paid anyway, but a 1% pay is more than disheartening.
    Other graduate degrees are higher paid from the off, which really devalues what we do, all the skills we have, what a difference we make, and how much we are needed for the operation of the NHS.
    We are not earning a living wage, despite what the government believes... And we are certainly not earning a wage good enough to unwillingly neglect our personal endeavours.

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  • I believe us nurses need to take a leaf out of junior doctors books. Strike action is needed!
    And I will not be telling my children to become a nurse. You get more money tending to plants as a gardener than you do tending to people.
    The minimum wage is now more than half of my hourly rate!
    I believe the gov is forcing nurses into the private sector so when they do finally dissolve all of our work places they can blame it on lack of staff. Saving their backs for the next election.

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  • Agree with all the comments here. I earn just over £14 per hour as a dual qualified children's nurse, £7 more than someone working at McDonalds. The government is setting a benchmark not only for salary but for how nurses are viewed as professionals.

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  • Just about covers the registration fee...

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  • 1% rise for the next few years... that's what this government thinks we're worth. We should get same rises as MPs for dedication + quality of care to our patients.

    The other way of getting pay rises is to change jobs. There's enough vacancies to try something new and still improve patients care.

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  • Laha78

    My cousin has never been to uni or college.
    He left school in 4th year and currently is a supervisor for a large catering company where he is in charge of overseeing the packing of food into cardboard boxes. His annual basic wage is £32,575. BASIC! He does a few hours overtime per week. Last month he walked away, after tax, with £2,672.
    I am a band 6 in a busy acute admissions unit on permanent nights, 12 hour shifts. I walked away, after tax, with £2,346.
    I fear a career in the food packing industry is imminent!
    What we are paid is both disgusting and insulting.

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  • I have 2 teenagers and in discussion with them, no one they know wants to become a nurse - why on earth would they when pay and conditions are so poor?

    So many people I know are leaving. Meanwhile MPs have had an 11% pay rise......

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  • just a thought, we have an ageing workforce many of them on final salary pensions and very close to retirement. By keeping salaries low they are reducing the amount they will have to pay out on pensions!!! Funny how the money is there to fund MP pay rises (11%) and payouts (expenses etc) but not other public sector workers, its an insult! Nurses save lives it's time our contribution was recognised.

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  • I really do not have the words to say how I feel. For years now I have tried to remain positive within my role. How do I feel? despondent, unappreciated, I am really trying to remain positive. Why do I bother, no one seems to care.

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  • Still getting a 0.4% pay cut once you factor in the 1.4% increase in national insurance contributions towards the pension flat rate.
    Of course nothing will be said and nurses will suck it up like the good little workers we are....

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