Business medical team meeting

The NHS pay offer and the future of the workforce

I hugely value everyone who works in the NHS, from nurses and paramedics, to porters and physiotherapists. Their commitment and dedication were nothing short of incredible throughout the pandemic, and they are now working tirelessly to tackle the Covid backlog.

We have had a series of constructive talks with unions representing Agenda for Change staff about pay and workforce issues.

I am pleased we have now been able to put forward an offer which reflects the value and importance of NHS workers while also recognising the wider economic pressures felt across the country.

The fair offer that most unions will now recommend to their members would give more than one million NHS workers on the Agenda for Change contract in England a pay rise if accepted.

The offer involves a 5% pay rise for the upcoming financial year, as well as two one-off payments for 2022/23. The first non-consolidated payment will be a 2% award and the second will be an NHS Backlog Bonus worth at least £1,250, recognising the extraordinary work of these NHS staff across the country to meet the Prime Minister’s ambition to cut waiting lists. These are on top of the uplift for 22/23, which was at least £1400.

I urge union members to accept this offer so we can move on and work together to make the NHS a better place to work.

We know that pay is only one element of the concerns the unions raised with us during our constructive conversations. That’s why we’ve agreed a number of measures through our negotiations, including building on existing safe staffing arrangements and amendments to terms and conditions to support existing NHS staff develop their careers through apprenticeships. The offer also includes a consultation to make the suspension of the pension ‘retire and return’ rules which were in place during the pandemic permanent. This will allow retired staff to return to work or increase their working commitments without having the payment of their pension benefits suspended.

NHS England will also soon publish the NHS long-term workforce plan which will help ensure the NHS can recruit and retain more staff, with independently verified forecasts for the number of doctors, nurses and other professionals that will be needed in five, 10 and 15 years’ time.

This pay offer comes just hours after junior doctors finished their 72-hour strike. I hope this demonstrates to the BMA that we want to enter into negotiations to agree a deal and end this disruption.

The Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay has again written to the BMA urging them to accept our offer to come to the negotiating table. The continuation of strikes is in nobody’s interest – they cause disruption to patients and hamper vital efforts to tackle the backlogs.

This is a pivotal moment and I urge Agenda for Change union members to accept this fair pay offer, so that the NHS can move on and focus on what it does best - taking excellent care of patients.

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NHE May/June 2024

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