NHS strikes suspended after new pay offer

ITV News Correspondents Emily Morgan and Libby Wiener report on the significance of the pay rise offered to NHS staff in England from April

Most unions have suspended further strikes by ambulance and other NHS staff and will recommend acceptance of a new pay offer to NHS workers.

The government has offered health workers including nurses, paramedics, physiotherapists, porters and cleaners, a one-off payment worth 6% of their salary for this financial year.

ITV News had earlier reported that an offer had been made, which will also include an above-inflation pay increase for 2023/24 worth 5%.

Ambulance members of GMB, Unison and Unite were due to strike next Monday and physiotherapists were going to walkout later this month but the action has been called off following the offer.

A government spokesperson said that unions which had planned strike action will now "consult their members in consultations that will be held over the coming weeks".

Unions set to present the offer to their members include the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), Unison, GMB, Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP), Unite and British Dietetic Association (BDA).

Planned strike action will continue to be suspended while members are consulted.

Rachel Harrison, GMB National Secretary, said: “This offer is far from perfect, and of course our NHS workers deserve more.

"GMB's national committee is recommending that the offer be accepted – but the final decision belongs to our members."

Ambulance members of Unison and Unite were due to strike next Monday and physiotherapists were going to walkout later this month, but the action has been called off.

The spokesperson added: "The government and the NHS Staff Council - which brings together NHS employers and unions representing the Agenda for Change workforce - have completed negotiations and reached a final offer.

"This includes additional pay for 2022/23 and a pay settlement for 2023/24. Both sides believe it represents a fair and reasonable settlement that acknowledges the dedication of NHS staff, while acknowledging the wider economic pressures currently facing the UK."

Speaking to broadcasters, Health Secretary Steve Barclay said he welcomed the settlement agreed with health unions.

He said: "Well we have listened to the concerns of the trade unions, we've had meaningful discussions with them, both sides have engaged constructively.

"Obviously the starting position from a number of the unions was much higher and so both sides have worked together to reach a settlement which is both affordable to the wider taxpayer and then balances the very real pressures we recognise that NHS workers have been on.

"So balance was required on both sides, that is what the talks explored and that's why I very much welcome that we've reached a settlement with the NHS Staff Council that balances our commitment in government to getting inflation down, to look at the cost and what was affordable to the wider economy, to taxpayers, but that also recognises the very real pressures that NHS staff had faced through the pandemic - and particularly through the recent winter."

Steve Barclay explains the pay offer agreed with health unions

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the deal is "affordable for the taxpayer and continues to deliver on my promise to halve inflation".

But Labour's Shadow Health Secretary, Wes Streeting, criticised the government for not negotiating a deal sooner.

He said: "The government should have sat down and negotiated with the nurses, paramedics and junior doctors months ago, as Labour called for and as we would have done.

"That's why we didn't have national strikes when Labour was last in government. Instead we've had 140,000 cancelled operations and appointments and that was before the junior doctors went on strike this week."

Under the deal, Agenda for Change staff will receive a non-consolidated award of 2% of an individuals' salary for 2022/23. The money will be on top of the pay increase of at least 4% workers received for 2022/23 last year.

Staff will also will receive a one-off "NHS Backlog Bonus" worth at least £1,250 per person, although the government said this "will be determined based on how much experience staff have and based on an individual’s pay band".

For 2023/24, the government is offering Agenda for Change staff a 5% consolidated increase in pay, worth at least £1,065.

Overall, the offer means a newly qualified nurse would see their salary go up by more than £2,750 over two years, from 2021/22 to 2023/24.

Those among the lowest paid positions in the NHS will also be provided with a higher pay uplift, with all those in bands 1 and 2 having their pay raised to the same level.

Ministers said they could guarantee there will be no impact on frontline services as a result of the pay offer.

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