The Welsh government and health unions have agreed a proposed pay increase of 6.5% for NHS staff in Wales for the next three years.
If supported by a ballot of union members, the new pay deal will begin in the autumn and last until 2020-21.
The government said it would give health workers in Wales “pay parity” with their counterparts in England, where a 6.5% offer was last month accepted by union members. However, the deal is less than the 9% increase that NHS staff in Scotland have been offered.
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The Welsh deal would see the current pay structure reformed to remove overlapping pay points, meaning higher starting salaries for staff in every pay band, the government said.
Despite the headline figure of 6.5%, the draft agreement sets out a complex formula with a wide disparity of increases in different years for each of the pay bands.
For example, those in band 7 will see their salary grow by 22.7% after three years, the biggest increase of all.
Those in bands 6 and 3 also look set to do well, with growth of 18.1% and 17.7% respectively, while band 1 and 2 grow by 8.9% and band 5 by 12.6% over the three years.
The pay rises are as follows:
- Band 1 and 2 workers will rise from £16,523 this year to £17,460 next year and £17,652 in 2019-20 and £18,005 in 2020-21.
- Band 3 workers will see much bigger rises. They get the biggest percentage increase of any band in year one – from £16,764 to £17,787 – a rise of 6.1%. In 2019-20 they will get £18,813 and in 2020-21 it will increase to £19,737.
- Band 4 workers will experience one of the lowest increases next year. Their pay will rise from of £19,410 to £20,150 – a rise of just 3.8%. There will be higher increases in the following two years as pay climbs to £21,089 in 2019-20 and £21,892 in 2020-21.
- Band 5 workers will see their pay rise more gently than most other bands From the current £22,129 it will rise to £23,023 next year, to £24,214 in 2019-20 and to £24,907 in 2020-21. This is a cumulative increase of just £2,778 over the three years.
- In contrast band 6 workers will see a cumulative increase of £4799. Currently on £26,566 their pay will rise to £28,050 next year. This will reach £30,401 in 2019-20 and £31,365 in 2020-21.
- Band 7 workers will see the greatest rise £7,193 over three years, equivalent to 22.7% on this year’s salary. Their pay goes from today’s £31,697 to £33,222 next year. In 2019-20 this will rise to go up to £37,570 reaching £38,890 in 2020-21.
The Welsh government claimed that the deal “matches and in some cases goes beyond” the deal for England. It said NHS staff in Wales will continue to receive more generous arrangements for unsocial hours payments during sickness absence.
Unions and employers will work together to support staff who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness and the current commitment to consider Living Wage Foundation recommendations each year will be maintained.
The framework promises “fair basic pay awards” for the next three years to staff at the top of pay bands. And it pledges “fair basic pay awards”, as well as “faster progression pay” for those who are not yet on the top of their pay band.
“We are now able to offer a much deserved pay rise to our hardworking and dedicated NHS staff”
The increases will show up in pay packets during the autumn, if accepted by union members. A Welsh government spokesman said: “If unions vote for the agreement we aim to have the new pay rates paid in October with back pay in November.”
Welsh health secretary Vaughan Gething said: “I am pleased to announce, following negotiations with unions and employers, that we are now able to offer a much deserved pay rise to our hardworking and dedicated NHS staff.”
He said it was a fitting recognition of the workforce’s “skill, dedication and hard work” on the 70th anniversary of the NHS.
“After eight hard years of austerity, imposed by the UK government, we have committed extra funding beyond the consequential funding that we received following the pay rise in England, to offer a deal which is not only fair to staff and taxpayers but will also lead to a better NHS for Wales,” he said.
The Royal College of Nursing in Wales welcomed the announcement as “the best deal that we could do” using negotiation.
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“The deal now needs to go through our RCN governance procedures and be put to members before it can be agreed,” sad the college in a statement.
“We will be working hard over the coming weeks to make sure our members have all the information they need to make an informed choice, but we believe that this is the best deal that we could do through negotiation,” it said.
The majority of NHS staff would receive a 6.5% increase over three years if the deal is agreed, the union said.
“This is the largest pay rise offered to nurses in 10 years and it has been a long and arduous journey to get to this point,” it added.
The union said it would now be engaging with members, noting that it was “vital that as many members as possible” took part in the consultation.
It added: “This deal is only the beginning. We will continue to fight for better pay and conditions for all members of the nursing family – whether in the NHS or the independent sector.”
“Midwives and maternity support workers work tirelessly everyday to deliver safe high quality care”
The Royal College of Midwives also welcomed the deal, saying that staff would progress through the pay bands more quickly.
“This is a good deal for our members,” said Helen Rogers, the RCM’s director for Wales. “Over the past number of months the RCM has worked hard with other NHS unions and the Welsh government to negotiate and secure the best possible deal for midwives and maternity workers in Wales,” she said.
The offer was long overdue, Ms Rogers said. “Midwives and maternity support workers work tirelessly everyday to deliver safe high quality care to mothers and babies in Wales and it is only fair that they are rewarded fairly for the care they deliver,” she said.
She added: “The RCM will now consult with our members in Wales, provide more information and encourage them to engage with the RCM on this important pay consultation process.”