A 3% pay rise from the government to NHS workers in England has been heavily criticised as “paltry”, “appalling” and “shambolic” by union leaders.
Those receiving the increase, which is backdated to April 2021, include nurses, paramedics, consultants, dentists and salaried GPs.
The government says that for the average nurse, this will mean an additional £1,000 a year. And the extra sum is expected to equate to around £540 for cleaners and porters.
The workers are being recognised for their pandemic contribution during an “unprecedented year”, says the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).
Health Secretary Sajid Javid has said it is a real-terms increase – but Donna Hales from campaign group Nurses United told Sky News: “It’s not even an attempt at a pay rise.”
She said she was “very insulted, very angry, very deflated, very disappointed… but to be fair, I’m not surprised.”
She added: “We do need a proper 15% pay rise to bring us back in line.”
Some unions, including the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), have described the sum as “shambolic” and “insulting”.
The RCN added that “the profession will not take this lying down”.
The organisation said the Treasury expects inflation to be 3.7%, so “ministers are knowingly cutting pay for an experienced nurse by over £200 in real-terms”.
In a video on Twitter, Mr Javid said: “I’m sure that this pay rise will make a real difference to people’s lives… showing them how much we value and respect their incredible contribution to our nation.”
And in a statement, he said: “NHS staff are rightly receiving a pay rise this year despite the wider public sector pay pause, in recognition of their extraordinary efforts.
“We asked the independent pay review bodies for their recommendations and I’m pleased to accept them in full, with a 3% pay rise for all staff in scope, from doctors and nurses to paramedics and porters.
“We will back the NHS as we focus our efforts on getting through this pandemic and tackling the backlog of other health problems that has built up.”
The government initially offered a 1% pay rise which was firmly contested by medical unions and regarded as “insulting” by NHS workers.
But on Wednesday evening, the DHSC confirmed they have accepted the recommendations of the NHS independent pay review bodies in full and will be increasing their offer to 3% in line with the “unique impact of the pandemic” on the health sector.
NHS staff in Wales will also receive the 3% increase after Health Minister Eluned Morgan also accepted the recommendations of the pay review bodies in full.
Healthcare staff have called for a real-terms pay increase.
And some may be disappointed that the amount falls short of the offer from the Scottish government, with NHS workers north of the border set to receive a 4% increase backdated to December.
Unison general secretary Christina McAnea said the pay award was “an improvement” on the government’s “earlier, miserly 1% proposal”, but that the sum “falls short of what NHS staff deserve after the past 16 months”.
She added: “Porters, cleaners, nurses, paramedics and other health workers have waited for months for what they hoped would be a fair deal. 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 Royal College of Nursing interim general secretary and chief executive 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.”
Unite national officer for health Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe described the 3% pay recommendation as “grossly inadequate and underwhelming”.
And the GMB union said the “insulting” 3% pay rise offer had been “sneaked out as MPs are packing up for summer holidays”.
Rachel Harrison, GMB national officer, said: “Hospitals and ambulance services are operating under extreme pressures due to rising demand and staffing shortages.
“Now, rather than focusing on staff welfare they are being advised to enter the workplace against self-isolation advice and now given this frankly appalling pay offer.
“This was the opportunity for government to turn their clapping into genuine recognition. Their response is paltry. They have failed spectacularly.
“NHS workers know their worth and so do the public – shame on the government who don’t.”
Labour health minister Justin Madders said “once again, this government has had to row back on a shoddy, ill-thought through position”.
“The pay review body has done what Ministers could and would not do – recognise that our NHS staff absolutely cannot be given a pay cut. After their hypocrisy, applauding NHS workers while trying to cut their pay, the government must make our NHS and key workers feel supported and valued after all they have done for us,” he said.
Meanwhile, national chair of the Police Federation Jonh Apter called it an “insult” that officers were not also included in the pay rise.
“I don’t begrudge a single penny of the 3% pay rise for our NHS colleagues,” he posted on social media.
“But for my colleagues, those police officers who absolutely played their part during the pandemic, to be ignored by a pay body which has had its hands tied by government is the ultimate insult.”
The government was facing a backlash after failing to announce an expected pay rise for NHS staff in England despite confirmation of the offer being widely expected on Wednesday.
Ms Whately delivered a ministerial statement on the NHS in the Commons on Wednesday afternoon, but her opening statement omitted any mention of the pay dispute.
But while the expected announcement failed to materialise in the Commons, the government did answer calls for the offer to be published before MPs break up for the summer recess on Thursday afternoon.