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THE 6.5 per cent pay rise offer to NHS workers does not make up for eight years of real-terms pay cuts, unions and Labour said today.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced the offer in the Commons, by which the lowest starting salary of £15,404 would be boosted to £18,005 in 2020/2021.
Answering an urgent question, he described the proposal as a “something-for-something deal” in which NHS bosses would have to bring “sickness absence in line with the best in the public sector.”
Nurses’ starting salaries will rise by £3,000 to £26,970, he added. Shared parental leave rights would also be extended to all staff.
Unite national officer for health Sarah Carpenter said the above-inflation pay rise should set a precedent for other public-sector workers whose pay had been capped at 1 per cent.
She said: “Unite welcomes many aspects of this deal, on which we will be consulting our membership over the next couple of months.
“However, we regard this as the start not the end of the journey for true pay justice for NHS staff, which we will campaign for with vigour in the coming months and years.
“It should be stressed that this is a fully funded deal — ie ‘new’ money, so it is not finance that is being taken away or diverted from cash-strapped NHS services.
“This is something we believe the government should have done a long time ago and they should do so now for other public-sector workers who have endured a similar rigid pay policy.”
The offer was welcomed by the TUC, but general secretary Frances O’Grady said that it must be followed by similarly funded pay rises for all public servants.
Royal College of Nursing general secretary Janet Davies said that the pay rise would make the profession “attractive again.” There are 40,000 vacant nursing jobs and 100,000 NHS vacancies in England.
Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said Labour had been vindicated in calling for a “long overdue” pay rise.
He told the Commons: “In the general election ministers said scrapping the pay cap was nonsensical.
“When a nurse pleaded with the Prime Minister for a pay rise on national television, she was told there was no magic money tree.”
Labour MP Ruth Smeeth described the deal as a “drop in the ocean,” with NHS workers taking a 14 per cent pay cut in real terms since 2010.
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