The cost to the NHS of a 1% pay rise could force trusts to seek further reductions in terms and conditions as they struggle with financial pressure, Nursing Times has been told.
The government announced last week it would end the two-year freeze on basic pay, with a 1% increase for staff on the Agenda for Change framework, effective from 1 April.
Unions reacted with anger to the news pointing to the fact the increase was half the current consumer price index inflation rate of 2.7% and follows increases in pension contributions.
But NHS Employers said the increase was “unnecessary” and would add an extra £500m in cost for the NHS, equivalent to 15,000 more nurses.
The extra pay cost comes just a month after employers and unions agreed reductions in pay, terms and conditions within the Agenda for Change framework. These changes are expected to deliver £275,000 a year savings for an average trust with 3,500 staff.
One source close to the Agenda for Change negotiations warned of “increased financial pressure in the system” meaning NHS trusts would need to find greater efficiencies and productivity.
He said: “It will keep the focus on terms and conditions and whether they are getting value for money and that things are sustainable. It also means trusts will need to consider other areas as well such as skill mix, service redesign and how we deploy and use staff.”
Chris Hopson, chief executive of the Foundation Trust Network said: “This just increases the pressure for a more radical look at what appropriate pay, terms and conditions are taking a three to five year view.”