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Nurses' Pay

Volume 475: debated on Wednesday 14 May 2008

The Petition of residents of the Taunton constituency and others,

Declares that the Government's refusal to backdate the pay settlement awarded to NHS nurses by the independent Pay Review Body in 2007 constitutes a broken promise to a profession that has been unfairly neglected in recent years; that the recent offer of 8% over 3 years is insufficient and vulnerable to current inflationary turmoil; and that the nurses of Taunton Deane are highly skilled and dedicated public servants who have earned a fair and rewarding pay settlement.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to increase the rate of pay for NHS nurses beyond the current settlement.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Mr. Jeremy Browne, Official Report, 28 April 2008; Vol. 475, c. 138 .] [P000178]

Observations from the Secretary of State for Health:

The Government fully recognises the important role that nurses play in patient care and ensuring they are properly remunerated for the specialist work they do.

In 2007-08 the Government made a decision - given the policy on public sector pay -to stage the Pay Review Body recommendations. However, in further discussions the NHS Staff Council reached an agreement to the following additional changes to the 2007-08 pay arrangements:

£400 for staff on pay points 1-7 with 1.5 per cent, payable from 1 April 2007 and the remainder from 1 November 2007;

2.5 per cent, and £38 for staff on pay points 8-18 with 1.5 per cent, from 1 April 2007 and the remainder from 1 November 2007;

2.5 per cent, with 1.5 per cent, payable from 1 April 2007 and with the balance from 1 November 2007 for all other staff;

funding to the equivalent of £25 per member of staff who is not required to have clinical professional registration to practice is made available by the Department of Health in 2007-08 to trusts to support training projects for that group of staff. Projects to be agreed locally in partnership with applications for funding signed off by the trust chief executive and staff side chair;

a payment of £38 a year to Agenda for Change clinical staff in bands 5-8(A) inclusive who are in professions where registration is a mandatory requirement of practice to support the payment of fees for their clinical registration from 2007 to 2010 inclusive, by when it will have been jointly reviewed; and

an agreement, without prejudice, to discuss the possibilities for a multi-year pay deal pay arrangement.

The agreed multi-year discussions have continued and the offer of just under eight per cent, across the next three years is now out to union consultation.

The deal would give staff a headline pay rise of 2.75 per cent, in the first year - the best in the public sector. For the first time, the minimum starting salary for nurses would be more than £20,000.

Structural reforms over the three years would deliver benefits not possible from a Pay Review Body award. This means that newly qualified clinicians - including nurses, midwives and physios - would receive a 20 per cent, pay increase over the course of the deal. Some staff in Band 5 would receive a 21 per cent, increase.

Experienced clinicians and other staff in non-clinical groups in Band 6 - including registered midwives and specialist therapists - would receive between a 19 per cent, and 21 per cent. increase over the three years.

The majority of staff in Bands 1 through to 4, including clinical support staff, would see an 18 or 19 per cent. increase over the course of the deal.

The Year 2 headline pay rise of 2.4 per cent. would establish a new minimum wage of £6.77 an hour - 18 per cent. higher than the statutory rate. Those on the lowest point would receive an overall pay increase of 5.7 per cent.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) have also welcomed the three-year pay agreement for nurses. Dr Peter Carter, Chief Executive & General Secretary of the RCN said:

“We have always said we would only consider signing up to a three year pay deal if it was fair and offered nurses protection against future rises in inflation. We are delighted to put the RCN's name to a proposal that does just that.

Nurses can now focus on doing what matters most, delivering high quality patient care, safe in the knowledge they have some degree of security over their household finances in the coming years. An important part of the package we have negotiated is to ensure nurses are protected against future price rises so we are delighted to have won a commitment to re-open pay talks should inflation rise sharply or if there are significant changes to the labour market. This process will be overseen by the independent pay review body.

“We have long argued that fair pay and decent conditions are vital to keep experienced nurses in the profession, while attracting much needed new blood. Given the uncertain economic climate and the government's tough public sector pay policy, this package, worth 7.99 per cent over three years, is better than expected and goes some way towards bridging the gap between nurses' pay and other public sector workers. We will now be consulting our members for their views on this proposed agreement. Details of the RCN's consultation will be announced shortly.”

The Government believes we have worked successfully with the Unions towards a deal that is good for staff, the NHS and patients. This deal ensures security for NHS staff and allows them to plan for their future and the future of their families. It will help those on the lowest wages, increase the earning potential for hundreds of thousands of staff and allow quicker progression up the pay ladder.

The Government does not agree that NHS nurses have been “unfairly neglected in recent years” - Agenda for Change itself provided an additional just short of £1 billion investment in the first full year of implementation, as addressed previously in the House.

The new multi-year deal will mean in 2008-09 the majority of nurses will receive both a headline award of 2.75 per cent, if agreed by the unions, and a further pay incremental uplift of on average 3 per cent., providing a 5.75 per cent, uplift for many nursing staff.