Health secretary Matt Hancock has revealed that nurses and other healthcare staff must wait until at least May 2021 for a pay rise.
In a letter last Friday to the NHS Pay Review Body, which advises the government on Agenda for Change pay, Mr Hancock said the start of the review process had been ‘unfortunately delayed’ because of the timing of the government’s spending review last month.
Mr Hancock also repeatedly stressed that the body’s pay recommendations, which are expected in early May, should consider cost.
He wrote: ‘We expect these recommendations to take account of the extremely challenging fiscal and economic context, and consider the affordability of pay awards.’ However, he also acknowledged the importance of pay to ‘continuing to recruit, retain and motivate NHS staff’.
Unison’s head of health Sara Gorton said it was ‘cruel to make staff wait until next summer to learn what their pay rise should be’ and called on the Chancellor and Prime Minister to ‘fund a decent wage increase now’.
RCN chief executive Dame Donna Kinnair agreed that ‘nursing staff should not have to wait for a pay rise’, adding that ‘funding our health and care service is a political choice’. She continued: ‘A fair pay rise is vital not just for nursing and other NHS staff, but for patients and the health service as a whole.’
Nurses on Agenda for Change contracts were always due for a pay rise after spring 2021/22 when the current three-year pay deal ends, although unions have been calling for it to be pushed forward.
In his spending review, the chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that NHS workers including nurses will not be part of a public sector pay freeze next year.