Thank you to constituents who have contacted me about the pay and conditions of nurses.
I would like to start by saying that I am extremely grateful for the dedication of nursing staff in very difficult circumstances over the last three years. In particular, I appreciate that the challenge of working in the NHS during the pandemic, and through the current period when the demand for patient care is very high, has taken a significant toll on nurses.
The last few years have also amplified existing challenges in the nursing workforce, such as the ability to retain experienced nursing staff to continue working in the NHS. Extending flexible working is one way to alleviate these challenges in several professions, so that NHS staff have greater choice over their working patterns and achieve a better work-life balance.
Throughout, the Government’s approach has been to protect the safety of both patients and staff. As a result of talks between the Government, NHS employers and the unions, an offer was made for NHS staff (including nurses) to receive an additional pay rise of 2 per cent for 2022-23, on top of the 4 per cent increase awarded by the Government through the Independent Pay Review Body process.
A "Backlog Bonus" of at least £1,250 will also be paid in recognition of the dedication and efforts of NHS staff during the pandemic and their role in cutting waiting lists. The level of bonus will be determined by pay band and experience, so for example, the average nurse in pay band 5, will receive £1,350.
For 2023-24, the Government offered NHS staff a 5 per cent consolidated increase in pay, worth at least £1,065. Alongside this, the Government will introduce measures to ensure safer staffing in hospitals, make the pension abatement rules introduced during the pandemic permanent and identify ways to tackle violence against NHS staff.
The Government has also provided a commitment to the RCN to address specific challenges around recruitment, retention and professional development in nursing, and will also consider a separate pay spine exclusively for nursing staff in 2024-25.
I firmly believe that this agreement represents a fair and reasonable offer for NHS staff, as well as being a fair deal for taxpayers. The NHS Staff Council – which includes unions and NHS employers – voted to accept this pay deal. The Government ensured that the deal was implemented so that more than a million workers across the NHS (including nurses) could receive this extra pay from June 2023.