Chancellor Philip Hammond has announced in his 2017 Budget that he will provide additional funding for a nurse pay rise, but only if the pay structure is ‘modernised’.
Delivering his Budget in the House of Commons this afternoon, Mr Hammond claimed that health secretary Jeremy Hunt was in talks with the health unions on ‘pay structure modernisation’, and that additional funding for a pay rise would be provided ‘if the health secretary’s talks bear fruit’.
It means that any money for a nurse pay rise will not come out of the existing NHS budget, but will be accounted for by extra funding from the Government.
Speaking to the Commons, Mr Hammond said: ‘The health secretary has already begun discussions with health unions on pay structure modernisation for Agenda for Change staff to improve recruitment and retention. He will submit evidence to the independent pay review body in due course. But I want to assure NHS staff and patients that if the health secretary’s talks bear fruit, I will protect patient services by providing additional funding for such a settlement.’
He added: ‘Our nations nurses provide invaluable support to us all in our time of greatest and deserve our deepest gratitude for their tireless efforts’.
Only last month, Mr Hunt claimed that a nurse pay rise would be dependent on the NHS ‘improving productivity’, after discussions with the Chancellor, something later described as ‘not credible’ by a King’s Fund report.
Mr Hammond also announced an extra £2.8b of resource funding to the NHS over the next three years, in recognition of the fact the NHS is ‘under pressure right now’.
He said: ‘I am exceptionally, and outside the spending review process, making an additional commitment of an extra £2.8b of resource funding to the NHS in England. £350m immediately to allow trusts to plan for this winter. £1.6b in 2018/19, with the balance in 2019/20, taking the extra resource into the NHS next year to £3.75b in total’.
Chief executive of NHS Employers, Danny Mortimer, said there was ‘a great deal to discuss’, but the Mr Hammond’s commitment was ‘welcome’.
He said: ‘We look forward to continuing to work with trade union colleagues and the Department of Health to agree how contract arrangements can be reformed and our employees benefit a welcome lifting of the pay cap. There is a great deal to discuss but the Chancellor’s commitment to fund the additional pay bill is welcome.’