Nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants who work for the NHS in England have only a few hours left to register their view on whether to accept or reject the current pay proposals.
Consultation exercises being run by unions – including the Royal College of Nursing, Unison, Unite and the Royal College of Midwives – on the pay deal are scheduled to close at the end of today.
The proposed three-year offer, which was unveiled in March, includes a 6.5% pay rise for almost all nurses and other NHS staff on Agenda for Change contracts.
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Under the deal, all but the very highest paid staff would get 3% in April 2018, 1.7% and a 1.1% lump sum in April 2019, and 1.7% from April 2020.
But the negotiations also included potential contract reforms that mean it will take less time to move through increments within a pay band and the removal of band 1 altogether.
As a result, negotiators said the proposals could result in some staff receiving more than the 6.5% basic pay, with controversial suggestions of to a 29% rise over the period for some.
These suggestions sparked criticism among some activists that the deal was being over-sold and calls that the deal should be rejected as a result.
The concerns on how the deal had been presented were also raised at the RCN’s annual congress last month in Belfast, where college leaders agreed to look into the issue.
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However, all of the unions involved in the negotiations, with the exception of the GMB, have urged their members to accept the deal.
Unions have also launched a website with more information on the proposal, including a “pay calculator” so staff on different bands can what they would get over the three years.
The Treasury has committed to fully fund the deal with £4.2bn extra for the NHS, meaning hospital trusts and other employers will not be asked to find the funds from existing resources.
Nurses and other NHS nursing staff have seen their pay either frozen or restrained since 2010, most recently due to the cap that has limited basic wage rises to 1% since 2015.
A change of stance from the government appeared to come last year in the wake of a series of workforce warnings from high profile figures in healthcare.
The health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, subsequently said himself that he planned to relay concerns about staff pay to the chancellor and then confirmed that the cap had indeed been scrapped.
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This was followed by the budget statement, in which the chancellor committed to provide “additional funding” for a salary rises tied to contract changes, potentially with a multi-year deal.
Philip Hammond subsequently reiterated a commitment to end the 1% cap ahead of his recent spring statement.