The chancellor has confirmed NHS workers including nurses will not be part of a public sector pay freeze next year as part of the government’s spending review
However, nurses will not receive a higher wage before the current three-year pay deal ends in spring 2021. This is despite campaigns for an early pay rise from unions including the RCN.
Speaking in the House of Commons on Wednesday, Rishi Sunak said: ‘Taking account of the pay review bodies’ advice, we will provide a pay rise to over a million nurses, doctors and others working in the NHS.’
It is not yet clear how significant the pay rise will be. But the NHS Pay Review Body, which advises the government on pay for Agenda for Change staff, will present its recommendations in spring 2021.
A Spending Review 2020 document published by the Treasury said it will continue to provide pay rises for NHS workers because of the ‘unique impact of Covid-19 on the health service’.
But it also stated the government ‘will need to take into account the challenging fiscal and economic context’ when setting the pay increase.
Most of the public sector will not see a pay increase next year, as Mr Sunak said he ‘cannot justify a significant, across-the-board’ rise in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.
But public sector workers who earn below the median wage of £24,000 will be guaranteed a pay rise of at least £250 next year, he added.
RCN chief executive Dame Donna Kinnair said the chancellor failed to take ‘the opportunity to recognise and reward the expertise and dedication of UK nursing staff today and respond to calls for an early and significant pay rise’.
She continued: ‘The Chancellor was one of millions on doorsteps to clap carers this year. Unlike others, he had the power to turn warm words into deeds – but today, he has failed to act.’
Those working in social care and on non-NHS contracts in the community ‘deserve a pay boost as much as their NHS colleagues’, she added.
Other key points in the Spending Review included a total of £18bn to be spent on Covid testing, PPE and vaccines next year.
The health budget in England will rise by £6bn, including an extra £3bn for the NHS to cope with Covid pressures.
Health Education England will also receive £260m to train more nurses and doctors, increase the mental health workforce and delver training to NHS staff.