It seems that the independent NHS pay review body is finally going to be allowed to do its job again and review the pay of nurses and other staff – almost certainly recommending a rise at some point next year.
The media were predicting a nurse pay rise at the weekend, but there was always a chance they had got it wrong, and the chancellor might continue to play the part of a pantomime villain and hold onto his pennies, keeping them away from nurses’ deserving pockets.
But today, in his autumn budget statement to parliament, he announced he would give additional funding for nurses’ pay rises.
- Chancellor commits to ‘additional funding’ for nurse pay rises
- Nursing and midwifery unions give cautious welcome on pay
- Government reveals extra funding to shore up NHS budget
It was noteworthy that Philip Hammond specifically praised “hardworking” NHS staff, and especially singled out nurses during his speech.
He told the Commons he would fund a pay rise for nurses outside of the normal NHS budget if the pay review body recommended it.
The body annually collects evidence from unions, employers and the government, but in previous years has not been able to recommend a rise above a 1%. A move that angered unions and staff.
One would hope that the chancellor and the government will now listen to the review body (as well as bow to pressure from the unions) and make a pay award that is above inflation to bring nurses’ salaries back in line with where they should have been while they’ve been suffering real term pay cuts.
“The chancellor is right to make this move now”
The chancellor is right to make this move now. The nursing workforce crisis is the worst it has ever been and it can not afford to suffer more losses if nurses feel that once again they are forced out of the profession by poor pay – or people are simply not attracted to join the profession in the first place. The previous policy on public sector pay did nothing for recruitment and retention in already struggling trusts.
Neither do the steady cuts to continuing professional development and training for nurses – a point that Mr Hammond unfortunately failed to mention in his budget speech today.
However, today was the first sign that the government will do the right thing on pay. Let’s hope that Mr Hammond really does take on board the recommendations – and literally put his money where his mouth is.