A written statement from Eluned Morgan MS, Welsh Minister for Health and Social Services, has confirmed an NHS Pay award enhancement for 2022/2023 and pay award for 2023/24 Agenda for Change staff.
The statement, which was published on 20 April 2023, shares details of a final package of measures for both 2022-23 and for 2023-24, which the health trade unions will be taking to ballot with their members.
Eluned says the majority of trade unions will be recommending accepting the offer but expressed ‘disappointment’ that not all trade unions are not accepting the pay offer. However, the statement confirms the Welsh Government is “very grateful” for the positive attitude taken in discussions in arriving at this best and final offer.
The offer is a “significant enhancement” beyond the Pay Review Body recommendations and beyond the accepted 2022-23 enhanced offer, according to the government.
For 2022-23, a collective agreement was reached earlier this year and which provided three percent (1.5 percent as a non-consolidated cash payment and 1.5 percent consolidated into pay and backdated to April 2022) on top of the average 4.7 percent increase already made following the Pay Review Body recommendations.
The additional now being offered in addition for 2022-23 is a one-off NHS Recovery Payment and will apply to all substantive staff and bank workers on Agenda for Change terms and conditions on a pro-rated basis. This payment will be on average a three percent non-consolidated payment.
For 2023-24, the offer is for a consolidated across-the-board increase of five percent with effect from 1 April 2023 to Agenda for Change pay scales.
In addition, the Welsh Government is also increasing the bottom two pay points to match the salary of a top of Band 2 which equates to a 7.8 percent increase for 2023-24.
If the offer is accepted this means that Welsh NHS staff will have received an average an award of over 15.7 percent (of which 11.2 percent is consolidated into pay permanently) over two years: 2022-23 and 2023-24.
This package means that those on the bottom of Band 5, which includes nurses and other health care professionals just starting their careers in NHS Wales, will have received a total pay increase of over 17 percent (of which over 12 percent is consolidated) for the financial years for 2022-23 and 2023-24. This sees their starting salary at £28,834.
In addition, Eluned underlines that the lowest paid NHS staff will have received a pay increase of over 26 percent (of which over 20 percent is consolidated) over 2022-23 and 2023-24. This also means the lowest paid workers will be above the real living wage rate from 1 April 2023 with a starting salary of £22,720, equating to an hourly rate of £11.39.
Added to this are further enhancements of the non-pay elements of the original 2022-23 offer where the government has “gone further” on unsocial hours allowance and included a number of benefits which are aimed at improving health workers working lives and career opportunities, Eluned adds.
The statement closes: “These have been tough negotiations. We have been very open about the difficult financial position we are in as Welsh Government. That is further complicated by the large proportion of the Welsh Government budget that is used to fund the NHS in Wales and the proportion of that NHS budget pays for wages. We lack the flexibility enjoyed by UK Government in terms of both money available and restrictive financial rules.
“Hard choices have been required to fund this pay offer and we have drawn on our reserves and underspends from across government to put this offer together. Using this money to increase pay now means we can’t use it for other purposes – but we are confident that this is the right thing to do.
“While the union representatives would have wished for even greater increases, they have arrived at their professional judgement that this is the best and final offer that can be negotiated with Welsh Government.
“I hope union members will consider carefully the full and final offer and vote to accept. Whilst health trade unions will be balloting members on an individual basis our aspiration from Welsh Government is that the offer is accepted by all unions so that we are able to implement the offer and end the industrial action on pay in NHS Wales.
“This statement is being issued during recess in order to keep members informed. Should members wish me to make a further statement or to answer questions on this when the Senedd returns I would be happy to do so.”