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Health leaders warn NHS ‘isn’t out of the woods’ despite pay deal agreement

More than one million NHS staff in England are set to benefit after the NHS Staff Council voted to accept the pay offer made by the Government in mid-March.

Amongst other things, the deal essentially means that Agenda for Change staff will get a 5% pay rise for this financial year as well as a one-off pay-out of at least £1,655 for last year.

The NHS has asked the Government to implement the pay offer as soon as possible, with the expectation that staff will see both the lump sum and their new 2023/24 pay rates in their June salaries.

The news was welcomed by many health leaders including spokespersons from NHS Employers, NHS Confederation and NHS Providers – however, they were all quick to emphasise the health service “isn’t out of the woods yet,” as Sir Julian Hartley, NHS Providers’ chief executive put it.

"Despite this result, nobody can deny the scale of longstanding and mounting pressures facing staff, frontline services and the quality of care that they can give. We mustn't forget that the various unions were not unanimous in their vote today, reflecting the strength of feeling among NHS staff,” said Hartley.

NHS Confederation’s chief executive, Matthew Taylor, also noted the need to resolve the ongoing disputes with junior doctors and the British Medical Association.

He said: “So, while the NHS Staff Council outcome is very positive news overall, it is not the line in the sand that will allow the NHS and those relying on its care, to confidently move on from the threat of future strikes, or from the underlying issues affecting the NHS that led to this activity being felt as necessary in the first place.”

Danny Mortimer, chief executive at NHS Employers, also echoed his peers’ sentiments around the impending NHS workforce plan and the need for it to clearly set out the Government's commitment to adequately recruiting and retaining in the sector.

“The impending NHS workforce plan is an opportunity for the government to make clear its commitment to invest in staff numbers and development, and for employers to redouble their efforts to improve workplaces across the NHS,” said Mortimer.

Hartley added: “It is vital too that we see a sustainable, long-term workforce plan – fully costed and fully funded – to tackle chronic staff shortages, with a clear vision of how enough staff will be recruited and retained to meet ever-increasing demand."

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