NHS staff earning £21,000 or less a year should receive a pay rise of £250 from April, the NHS pay review body has recommended.
Due to the second year of the pay freeze for NHS staff earning more that £21,000, the pay review body was asked once again to make recommendations only for those earning below that figure.
In its latest report, the pay review body stated: “Our overall assessment is that there is no case to justify any increase above a flat rate £250 for those Agenda for Change staff earning £21,000 or less.
“We recommend an uplift of £250 to Agenda for Change spine points 1 to 15 from 1 April 2012.”
This level of increase is in line with the view of the Department of Health. In its evidence to the pay review body the DH said it “strongly believed” there was no need to give an increase in excess of £250.
The DH and the health departments of the devolved governments argued this was the case because the majority of lower paid staff would also receive incremental pay rises on top of the flat rate.
They claimed around two-thirds of staff earning £21,000 or less had not reached the top of their pay bands and “would therefore be entitled to receive incremental progression of between 1.8% and 3.7%”.
However, in their evidence to the review body, unions argued that £250 “was not sufficient”.
The review body’s report said: “The staff side informed us that the £250 award for the lowest paid NHS staff had gone some way to cushioning the impact of rising inflation but that evidence showed that inflation was running at a higher level for the lower paid.
“This was combined with benefit and welfare cuts which were detrimental to low income working households, particularly those with children.”
In its response to the review body’s recommendation today, Unison also criticised the pay freeze for nurses and other staff earning more than £21,000.
Unison head of health Christina McAnea said: “Hundreds of thousands of NHS staff and their families face a second year without a pay rise.
“Continuing to freeze pay in this way will also deter young people from entering healthcare professions and we could soon be back to the bad old days where gaps in the workforce could only be plugged by raiding the trained staff of other countries.
“The NHS will only be able to cope with double whammy of massive restructuring and fewer resources by retaining well motivated and highly skilled staff.”