Ministers force NHS England to cover part of 3% pay rise | NHS
Ministers are forcing the NHS to cover part of its 3% staff cost pay increase In a move that health service chiefs say could lead to cuts in patient care.
The NHS in England will have to find around £500m to help fund the 3% increase which the health minister said, Sajid Javed, on Wednesday, despite their already struggling to cover the additional costs of the pandemic, including the backlog of care, and treatment for the growing numbers of people with “long Covid”.
Ministers also face growing anger from the medical profession after it emerged that tens of thousands of doctors had been left out of the 3% deal, despite government advisers on the issue. NHS He pushed specifically to recommend that they also be rewarded for helping tackle Covid-19.
Traditionally, the Treasury meets the full cost of annual wage increases for NHS staff. However, Boris Johnson decided that the service would have to help with at least part of the 3% increase bill, which is paid to more than 1 million employees for the 2021-22 year and dated to April.
NHS leaders reacted with displeasure at having to divert money from providing care to help cover the cost normally borne by the Treasury, which normally gives the service the full amount needed to pay salaries in settling its annual budget.
The NHS now faces having to find an estimated £500m to fill the gap between the 2.1% increase considered in its budget for this year and a total of 3%.
Until this week, the government had insisted for months that it could not provide a 1% raise for health workers. But this week it has tripled amid fears that such a low supply seemed to be vital given the remarkable efforts of NHS staff during the pandemic. There was also the idea that it might lead to a summer of industrial disruption among nurses, doctors, and other health workers.
Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers, told Today’s program on BBC Radio 4: “The key question is, will the government fund this pay award properly? What we can’t have is a situation where the assumption is that the NHS will achieve efficiencies, or they will cut the number of employees or reduce the services you provide to pay for this bonus.”
A senior NHS official said: “It’s really important that it be fully funded, without affecting patient care. If you’re cutting funding to fund this increase – 0.9% – there is a risk that it could affect patient care.”
The Guardian understands Johnson has overturned an offer by the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, on Wednesday to give staff a pay raise of less than 3%, after Javid warned that doing so would lead to a protest on the NHS frontline.
The prime minister had to step in after Javid became embroiled in a row with Sunak over how much the NHS should get and how the deal should be regulated.
The Treasury, concerned about the cost of the £1.5 billion to £2 billion increase for a 3% raise, argued that only 1.5% should be added to staff salary baselines and that staff should receive the other 1.5% as a one-time, non-recurring payment. .
A source familiar with discussions between the three ministers said: “Javid was demanding 3% once he got the job recently, even though the cabinet position was 1% at the time. He knew the 1% had gotten worse with Johnson’s health unions, though publicly supporting the 1%, he was also about 3% more positive.
“The Treasury wasn’t keen on 3% at all and there was a bit of a push and pull on that. Then, when it became clear that Johnson and Goode were backing 3%, they said half the rise should be one-off. However, they lost the argument about 3% Then they were vetoed again about their plan to split the wage increase in two.”
The source added that although Javid had hoped to attract the health unions by doubling the 1% to triple, their angry reaction meant that this increased amount did not escape a potential strike.
Chris Hobson, chief executive of the NHS Providers Hospital Group, also urged ministers to cover the full cost of the 3% award. “It is important that this pay increase is fully funded without affecting patient care in the NHS. It is not clear at this point how that will happen given that due to Covid-19 the NHS still does not have its budget for the second half of the year. Speaking, it is impossible to know the impact on NHS budgets.
Anita Charlesworth, director of research at the Health Foundation, said the NHS budget was already under severe pressure due to the additional demands made by Covid-19. “Health services cannot spend the same amount twice. Reducing the backlog of waiting times will require significant funding, and the NHS needs to support people with mental health issues and the prolonged Covid-19 associated with the pandemic.”
Doctors are considering industrial action over wage increases. The British Medical Association plans to get its members’ opinions on the 3% offer and then decide ‘what are the next steps [doctors] The Association may wish to respond to this offer.”
The BMA has accused ministers of being “cruel and unjust” to exclude tens of thousands of GP partners and junior doctors as well as specialist and affiliated doctors from the deal, in defiance of dissenting advice from the Physicians and Dentists Compensation Authority and its advisors. . The authority said it was “extremely important” that ministers recognize the contribution of these doctors over the past 16 months and reward them appropriately, even though they have their own salary deals.
The Department of Health and Social Care said it did not include 61,000 junior British doctors in the deal because their four-year contract gave them a 2% increase each year. A spokesperson for the department said: “NHS staff in the range – from doctors and nurses to paramedics and porters – are rightly receiving a 3% pay increase this year, despite the broader public sector pay cut, in recognition of their extraordinary efforts throughout this global pandemic.
“Professionals and affiliated professionals who transitioned to the new contract and physicians in training continue to benefit from contract reform deals and multi-year wages, so wage review bodies were not asked to make recommendations on their payment.”
The Prime Minister’s spokesperson said: “The wage increase will be funded from the NHS budget. But we are very clear that it will not affect funding already earmarked for the NHS front line. We have a historic settlement in 2018 that saw its budget rise by £33.9 billion by 2023/24. … we have given £92 billion to the NHS and social care through the pandemic.”