Nurse pay award: government announces 3% rise for NHS staff

RCN warns members ‘will not take this lying down’, as rise falls far short of 12.5% demanded

Fair pay for nurses sign during a protest in London
PIcture: Alamy

Nurses in England will receive a 3% pay rise backdated to April 2021, the government has confirmed.

A day of confusion ended with the announcement that ministers had accepted in full the recommendations of the independent NHS Pay Review Body for the 2021-22 pay round.

Amounts to a pay cut after inflation, says RCN

An expected Commons statement failed to materialise on Wednesday afternoon, with health minister Helen Whately telling MPs the matter was still under consideration. But by early evening the Department for Health and Social Care confirmed the rumoured 3% rise.

While the pay award is an improvement on the government’s previous suggestion of 1%, described as ‘miserly’ by unions, the RCN said it would be consulting its members on next steps, adding they ‘would not take this lying down’.

RCN interim general secretary Pat Cullen said: ‘After a shambolic day, comes a shambolic announcement. When the Treasury expects inflation to be 3.7%, ministers are knowingly cutting pay for an experienced nurse by over £200 in real-terms.

‘Hospitals and other parts of the NHS are struggling to recruit nurses and healthcare support workers. The government has been warned that many more are on the verge of leaving. With today’s decision, ministers have made it even harder to provide safe care to patients.’

The RCN described the announcement as light on details. Further information on what the deal entails are expected to be announced Thursday morning.

But the college said a nurse at the top of band 5 with at least seven years’ experience and a current salary of £30,615 will receive £31,533 a year under this award; however, if the award kept pace with inflation, the nurse’s salary would be £214 higher.

Lower than pay rise awarded to NHS staff in Scotland

Unison general secretary Christina McAnea said the pay award felt short of the 4% rise offered to most staff in Scotland.

‘Porters, cleaners, nurses, paramedics and other health workers have waited for months for what they hoped would be a fair deal,’ she said. ‘Ministers could have paid up last year if they really valued the NHS. Instead, staff have been made to hang on until the summer – long after their wage rise was due.’

The RCN has campaigned for a 12.5% pay rise, and set up a £35 million strike fund in response to the government’s ‘insulting’ 1% pay rise suggestion in March.

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