The Welsh Government has drawn on its ‘reserves and underspends’ to put forward a final pay package for NHS nurses in Wales for 2022/23 and 2023/24, it has been announced.
The new offer builds on that proposed by the government earlier this year and now includes a further additional one-off NHS ‘recovery payment’ for 2022/23 and a consolidated rise for 2023/24.
Unions, including the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) and Unison, will now ballot their members on the deal.
The situation comes as general practice nurses aired their concerns about the potential impact of increased pay offers for NHS staff on recruitment and retention in general practice.
In total, the offer for 2022/23 consists of a 1.5% consolidated increase and a 1.5% one-off payment – both of which have already been implemented, as well as a new and further one-off ‘recovery payment’ which, on average, equates to 3%.
Meanwhile, for 2023/24, the government has pledged a 5% consolidated increase, with effect from April 2023.
The revised offer also includes a commitment from the Welsh Government to ‘the principal of pay restoration to 2008 levels’, as well as a list of non-pay elements, such as career progression for nursing staff, paid time to undertake professional development and the implementation of a nurse retention plan.
RCN Wales, which is set to ballot its NHS nurse members from April 24 to May 10, said that while the offer was ‘complicated’, it was putting this offer to members without any voting recommendation.
RCN members in Wales, who previously took strike action over this pay dispute, had rejected a now implemented pay offer from the government earlier this year. But the RCN’s objection had been over-ruled by a majority of other unions accepting the deal.
What is in the new NHS pay offer?
• An enhanced pay award in the form of an additional 3% already implemented from the previous offer made in February; 1.5% consolidated increase (backdated to April 2022), (already implemented), and a 1.5% non-consolidated payment, (already implemented)
• A further additional one-off NHS recovery payment for both substantive staff and bank workers, with an average value of 3% across bands.
• A 5% consolidated increase with effect from April 2023
• The investment in the bottom of the pay bands so that Band 1 and bottom pay point of Band 2 have an increase of 8% taking them to £22,720.
Helen Whyley, RCN Wales director, said: ‘The Welsh Government returned to negotiations because of the momentous pressure placed upon them by nursing staff in NHS Wales.’
While she said the offer ‘doesn’t come close enough’ to the increase it had been campaigning for, Ms Whyley said the college had ‘negotiated tirelessly over recent weeks to get the best possible outcome for our members’.
Ms Whyley also said the college trusted that the new offer would ‘go some way to helping our members with the current cost of living crisis’.
She added that it was now ‘important that members now make their own informed choice based on their personal circumstances and – as always – what is in the best interest of their patients’.
Ms Whyley added it was now ‘is important that members now make their own informed choice based on their personal circumstances and – as always – what is in the best interest of their patients.’
Meanwhile, Unison, whose members in Wales had voted to accept the previous offer, is recommending that members once again accept the government’s latest offer.
Unison Cymru/Wales head of bargaining and campaigns, Jess Turner, said that while NHS staff deserved more the offer was ‘a significant step forward and the best that could be achieved through negotiation’.
Ms Turner added that Unison was recommending the offer because it contained ‘additional terms and conditions commitments’ including on unsocial hours and enhancements on sick pay.
In a written statement, the Welsh health secretary Eluned Morgan, said: ‘Hard choices have been required to fund this pay offer and we have drawn on our reserves and underspends from across government to put this offer together.
‘Using this money to increase pay now means we can’t use it for other purposes – but we are confident that this is the right thing to do.’
Ms Morgan claimed that if the offer was accepted, nurses at the bottom of band 5 would see a total pay increase of ‘over 17%’ for the 2022/23 and 23/24 financial years and would see their starting salary at £28,834.
The news comes after RCN members in England rejected an improved NHS pay offer, and plans for a 48-hour strike were unveiled last week.
Meanwhile, nurses in Northern Ireland have said they could be ‘forced’ to strike unless a new pay offer is received soon.