Wales has joined Scotland and Northern Ireland in offering a one-time bonus to health and social care workers for their efforts during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The country’s health minister Vaughan Gething yesterday announced the £735 payment for healthcare staff after their ‘truly remarkable’ contributions through ‘some of the most difficult and challenging circumstances’. Details of the scheme, include when payments will be received, are being finalised.
Mr Vaughan added: ‘As we approach one year on, you’re still working hard, looking after the sick and the vulnerable and vaccinating tens of thousands of people every day to give us real hope for the future.’
Although, the RCN has highlighted that most workers will take home £500 after tax and national insurance deductions, and repeated calls for a ‘substantive’ pay rise.
Scotland and Northern Ireland have also offered a £500 ‘thank you’ to health and care staff last year, which Scottish staff received in Februaryand Northern Irish staff will receive in the new financial year.
A petition, organised by campaigner Colin Wales from Cumbria, urging England to join the rest of the UK by doing the same has reached 7,000 signatures.
The Welsh Government said the award will benefit more than 100,000 social care staff and 90,000 NHS Wales staff as well as deployed students and primary care staff.
It is in addition to the £500 paid to care workers in Wales announced in May 2020, which recognised their work through the first wave of the pandemic.
Helen Whyley, director of RCN Wales, underlined that the bonus is ‘not the significant and substantive pay rise that we have been calling for our nursing staff’.
She continued: ‘What we want from the Welsh Government is a commitment to ensuring fair pay for nursing, fair pay that addresses over 1,600 vacancies in Wales, fair pay that encourages nurses to stay in the profession and fair pay that ensures the delivery of excellent patient care.
Paul Summers, lead officer for health at trade union Unison Cymru Wales, contrasted the bonus to the ‘insulting approach of the Conservative UK government’.
He added: ‘But this is only the start and we will continue to argue for all NHS Agenda for Change staff to receive a minimum £2,000 pay rise.’