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Senior staff benefit most in NHS pay settlement

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Health Secretary, Alan Milburn, today announced pay rises for frontline NHS nurses, doctors, dentists and therapists. The Government has accepted recommendations from the independent Pay Review Bodies for pay increases next year.

The award will provide extra pay for those senior nursing staff taking on new responsibilities under the NHS Plan.

The above-inflation pay rise for NHS staff is part of a much wider programme to recruit and retain more nurses, doctors and other frontline staff, including more job flexibility, better career development, proper childcare facilities and extra pay in areas where the cost of living is highest.

This is the third year in a row that the Government has accepted the recommendations of the Pay Review Bodies on NHS staff. The pay increases will not be staged so staff will get the full effect of the increases from April 1 2001.

The key points of the pay increases are as follows:

  • all NHS nurses will receive a 3.7% pay increase, taking a newly qualified nurses pay to a minimum of £15,445, while senior nurses such as Sisters and Charge Nurses will now earn between £21,605 and £26,290.
  • The “professions allied to medicine”, such as physiotherapists, radiographers and chiropodists will all receive a pay increase of at least 3.7%.
  • 70,000 senior nurses whose role is central to the Government’s NHS reform programme will move to a new pay point, meaning their total pay increase will be over 5%, with increases of between £1,270 and £1,515 a year.
  • Taken together with new Cost of Living supplements, announced last month, and a 3.7% increase for London Weighting, nurses in London and the South will receive an average pay increase of between 6.2% and 9%.
  • All NHS doctors, including junior doctors, consultants, dentists and GPs will receive a 3.9% pay increase. Taken together with a new agreement on junior doctor’s pay which came into effect on 1 December, this means that pay for an average newly qualified junior doctor will increase by between £2,738 and £3,098.
  • A hospital consultant’s starting salary will rise from between £48,905 and £63,640 to between £50,810 and £66,120, while a GP’s salary will increase from £54,220 to £56,335.

Overall, the NHS pay bill for nurses will rise by 4% and the pay bill for doctors will rise by 4%.

Alan Milburn said:

“We’re determined to do right by frontline NHS staff. Year on year we are making steady progress on increasing their numbers and improving pay rates. These fair and affordable pay rises will help increase still further the numbers of trained, qualified staff working in the NHS.

“For the third year in a row, the awards will be paid in full, without staging. We are making steady progress on improving pay. Two years ago, newly qualified nurses had a 12% pay rise. Last year, staff nurses had a pay rise of 8%. This year extra rewards are going to those senior nurses taking on extra responsibilities.

“These across-the-board pay increases go hand in hand with targeted efforts to help staff who live in the most expensive parts of the country, to make sure junior doctors are better rewarded for their hard work, and to invest in providing proper childcare facilities for NHS staff.

“Alongside these pay rises the Government is giving frontline staff greater flexibility about how they are employed and greater control of NHS budgets.

“The Pay Review Bodies have reported slightly earlier than usual so that the NHS can have more time to plan ahead, while staff will know more quickly exactly how they will stand next year.

“These pay awards are affordable for the NHS given the huge scale of the extra resources we are putting in. The biggest rise in NHS spending for a generation means that we can expand the numbers of staff in the NHS and increase rates of pay.”

For Unison, the trade union representing a 350,000 nursing staff, Karen Jennings, Head of Nursing said:

“The government’s pay review body recommendation of just 3.7% for nurses and midwives is an “Oliver Twist offer” which leaves low paid nursing assistants needing more and bedside nurses at the back of the queue.

“The union has been arguing for four years that urgent action is needed to improve bedside nurses’ pay, or the NHS risks losing them.

“A and B grade nurses – on £9,000-£11,010 and £10,660-£12,135 – are particularly poorly paid,” she added, “yet without their vital contribution to patient care, wards would grind to a halt.

“They are the the ones who carry out the day to day tasks of taking temperatures, checking blood pressures, changing dressings, looking after personal hygiene and ensuring that a patient’s stay in hospital is more comfortable.

“This is a missed opportunity by the pay review body, who should have had the vision to solve tomorrow’s problems and not just look at today’s.

“History shows that a boom and bust approach to health pay doesn’t solve the recruitment and retention crisis. Unison will be calling on the government for a meeting to discuss improving pay in the longer term.”

Unison Scotland secretary, Matt Smith, pointed out that the average wage for a skilled worker is £21,000, but “even after this increase a qualified nurse, educated to degree level and working in a coronary care unit will earn £100 a week less that the average wage of a skilled worker.

“There are 16,000 nurses registered with the UKCC living here in Scotland who don’t work in the public, private or voluntary sectors,” he added.

“These are individual nurses who have been lost to the profession. They will not be enticed back by this rise.”

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