Last week the government announced the NHS England Budget would increase by 3.4% a year on average over the next five years. For NHS staff including nurses, paramedics, porters and managers this means they are set to receive their first real pay rise for eight years, after healthcare unions voted in favour of a deal to increase their wages by at least 6.5 per cent by 2020.
Since 2010 NHS staff have been plagued by frozen pay and capped rises at one per cent meaning many have experienced their income fall. Just last year The Royal College Of Nursing’s 270,000 members were polled on whether they should strike, for the first time in their history in protest of the government holding down their pay by the limiting caps.
The proposed increase is backed by £4.2bn in additional Treasury funding and marks the lessening of Conservative public sector pay restraint policies. The deal sets to benefit over a million NHS staff on NHS Agenda for Change contracts such as bank staff. Sara Gorton, Unison’s head of health and the lead negotiator for the unions said: “The agreement won’t solve all the NHS’ problems overnight, but it will go a long way towards easing the financial strain suffered by health staff and their families over many years.
It is also hoped that this increase will help address the almost 100,000 unfilled health jobs, which will now look more financially attractive, however since the government scrapped university bursaries for nursing in England, a fall in applications nursing courses has fallen for the second year running with a 13 per cent decrease in the past year.
The pay rise comes after many argued the current pay structure was relying on the goodwill of nurses, “Nurses should not have to fund the NHS deficit from their own pay packets. Every year that the government holds NHS pay below inflation, hundreds of thousands of nurses get another real-terms cut to their salary. Too many are struggling to make ends meet, turning to food banks and hardship grants in desperation,” said Janet Davies, the RCN’s chief executive and general secretary.
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