Unions consulting on NHS pay deal

21 March 2018

A pay increase of over 6% has been agreed that will benefit NHS England staff on the Agenda for Change contract in a new NHS pay deal.

The three-year deal was formally agreed by unions and ministers today (21 March), with the lowest paid set to get the biggest annual rises in the deal.

It is thought those on the lowest salaries could see their pay rise by £4000 and it is believed that the deal guarantees a minimum rise of 6.5%, with many getting more.

It will be up to the devolved governments to decide whether to implement the deal outside of England. Scotland has already given its lowest paid staff bigger rises so there could be some divergence in how the terms are introduced elsewhere.

Contrary to rumours, staff will not be forced to give up a day’s holiday in return for the pay rise. Instead, a national framework will be set up through which individuals can buy and sell their annual leave.

The deal will also include an agreement for staff and the Department of Health to look for ways of reducing rates of sickness in the NHS and changes to increments.

Most staff will have progressed to the top of their pay band by the time the three-year deal ends, but for those who have not – and for new starters – incremental progression will change.  

Bands will have fewer pay points but staff will stay on the same one for longer. Instead of small annual increments, increases will be larger, but there will be a longer interval between increments. In addition, all employers will be required to apply a process – linked to appraisals – before an incremental increase is activated.

The deal, which could cost £4bn, will be fully funded by the Treasury, rather than coming out of existing NHS budgets.

Unite was one of 14 unions that put in a pay claim in late 2017, which led to the government agreeing to negotiate.

Unite national officer Sarah Carpenter said: ‘At long last, after eight years of pay austerity, there has been a significant recognition that this harsh pay regime imposed on hard working and dedicated NHS staff can no longer be sustained.

‘We especially welcome the boost for the lowest paid in the NHS. It has been right to strongly focus on addressing the issues of those who are paid the least, but who have struggled the most to cope with the savage impact of austerity.

‘We hope that this package, hammered out after long and intense negotiations, heralds a new realistic pay dawn for NHS staff and goes some way to meet the recruitment and retention crisis in the health service.

‘This pay package is England only at present, although funding is promised for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.  

‘Unite’s national health committee has discussed the deal and agreed to put it out for the members to decide, with the recommendation to accept. Our work is now to inform and consult our membership. They will be balloted during April and May, at the same time as other NHS unions.' 

According to Unite, all NHS members in England will get a vote (Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will be talking to members separately), and this consultation will happen over April and May, with the outcome in early June.  

Local meetings are being arranged for union members to find out more from their local reps. All the information is available on the joint unions pay website, which also includes a pay calculator for staff to see how much their pay will change over the next three years.