One million NHS staff to get first pay rise above inflation for eight years as unions back pay deal

Deal backed by £4.2bn from Treasury will do nothing for nurses or workers in general practice and social care, unions warn

Thousands of nurses make London protest against pay cap

NHS nurses, paramedics, porters and managers are to get their first real pay rise for eight years, after health service unions voted in favour of a deal to increase their wages by at least 6.5 per cent by 2020.

The increase is backed by £4.2bn in additional Treasury funding and marks the relaxation of the Conservative’s public sector pay restraint policies that have either frozen pay or capped rises at one per cent since 2010.

The deal will benefit more than a million staff on NHS Agenda for Change contracts – those employed by health service hospital or ambulance trusts.

It is also hoped that it may help to address nearly 100,000 unfilled health jobs.

Junior members of staff and those in the least well paid roles will see their pay increase the most under the deal, first announced in March. The maximum increase staff could receive in their role would be 29 per cent.

Staff who have been in their position the longest will a receive 6.5 per cent increase over three years.

The GMB union rejected the deal on the basis that this increase will not address the real-terms cuts staff have endured, but members of the Royal College of Nursing and Unison, two of the largest health care unions, backed the deal by 77 per cent and 84 per cent respectively.

Sara Gorton, Unison’s head of health and the lead negotiator for the unions said: “The agreement won’t solve all the NHS’ problems overnight, but it will go a long way towards easing the financial strain suffered by health staff and their families over many years.

“The lifting of the damaging one per cent cap on pay will come as a huge relief for all the employers who’ve struggled for so long to attract new recruits and hold onto experienced staff."

She added the deal “must not be a one off” and sustained pay increases must be factored into the long-term budget increase for the NHS due to be announced before its 70th anniversary in July.

The deal will not benefit doctors, who negotiate pay separately, or nurses and workers in general practice, social care or those whose contracts are subcontracted to the private sector.

Janet Davies chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing said: “After today, the government cannot assume that the thorny issue of NHS pay has been put to bed. This deal marks a step in the right direction but the bigger leap to truly fair pay still needs to be taken.

“We will turn our campaigning fire on getting this pay rise extended to nursing staff in other parts of the NHS and social care too. The care sector already suffers from high staff turnover and so pay must be boosted there too if we are to prevent a nursing exodus for better paid jobs in hospitals and the community.”

Equivalent funding will also be available to the home nations to account for the budget uplift in England, however a pay rise for other public sector workers is not confirmed.

In response to the news health and social care secretary Jeremy Hunt, said: “This is an incredibly well deserved pay rise for staff who have never worked harder. Salaries will increase from between 6.5 per cent and 29 per cent, with some of the biggest increases for the lowest paid. I hope this will also go some way to helping us recruit and retain more brilliant staff in our NHS.”

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