More Than a Million NHS Staff Can Expect a Pay Rise Over Three Years

Wednesday 21st March 2018

As a part of a deal formally agreed by unions and ministers, more than a million NHS nurses, paramedics and porters can expect a pay increase of at least 6.5% over three years, at a cost of up to £4 billion.

If the deal is formally agreed by ministers and unions, as is expected to happen later today, NHS workers on the Agenda for Change contract may see their pay increase nearly straight away, with the lowest paid staff getting the biggest increases to their pay.

Agenda for Change contracts do not cover doctors, dentists or senior leaders, who are covered by separate agreements. It divides the NHS pay system into nine pay bands, which start from £15,000 per year for kitchen staff, porters and cleaners, and go all the way to up to band 9, which is for heads of department and is over £100,000.

In terms of frontline staff, nurses start with a salary of £22,000 on band 5, and the frontline position with the highest pay band is band 8, which pays up to £80,000 per year.

The pay deal’s implementation is up to each of the devolved governments of the UK (Welsh Assembly, Scottish Parliament and the Northern Ireland Assembly), and as Holyrood has previously given pay rises to the lowest paid staff in the NHS, the terms of the treasury deal may well not be introduced the same way in each devolved government.

The deal has been negotiated for quite a while, with certain elements being discussed, disputed and headed off. An attempt to get staff to forfeit a day of holiday in order to get a bigger pay rise was stopped in its tracks. There is expected instead for there to be a change in how increments, or automatic pay rises for staff in the job are paid. Roughly half of the Agenda for Change staff received 3% to 4% pay rises through this system on top of the capped 1% annual pay award.

The deal is expected to be agreed by the NHS staff council, a group that represents 14 unions that work in the NHS which is due to meet later today.

This comes after significant pressure over the last few years for the NHS to retain staff, as 33,000 nurses walked away from the profession in 2017 and one in ten nurses leave the public health sector each year, due to falling real-terms pay and conditions. This led to a particularly turbulent winter period as staff shortages and a worse than expected winter led to huge waiting times at accident and emergency and the cancellation of a number of elective procedures.

If the deal is agreed, it could be a very encouraging turnaround for the NHS, with a deal in place that isn’t a huge amount once inflation is taken into account but is focused on improving the conditions of people on the lower ends of the pay band and could help to recruit more much needed NHS staff.