Vaughan Gething, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Services
Further to my Written Statement on 05 July I am pleased to announce the Agenda for Change multi-year pay and contract reform deal (2018/2019 to 2020/2021) has been unanimously agreed by trade unions in Wales.
NHS staff do a fantastic job in delivering world-class care. Even with increasing pressures on the NHS due to, amongst other things, an ageing population and changing public expectations, they work incredibly hard, always putting patients first and keeping them safe whilst providing the high quality care we all expect.
The new deal will see NHS staff in Wales on Agenda for Change terms and conditions benefit over three years and help deliver better value for money, with some of the most important changes to working practices in a decade.
The deal includes a range of pay and non-pay proposals that will benefit staff and patients. Most NHS staff below the top of their pay band will benefit from pay increases through the re-structuring of the pay bands – higher starting pay, removal of overlapping pay points and shorter pay scales.
The deal also guarantees fair basic pay awards for the next three years to staff who are at the top of pay bands – a cumulative 6.5% over three years.
The agreement will put learning and development right at the heart of local annual appraisals, helping to improve the experience for staff, ensuring they demonstrate the required standards for their role before moving to the next pay point. We know that getting appraisals right helps improve staff engagement and through that better outcomes for patients. In Wales, specific commitments by the Welsh Partnership Forum to improve the health and wellbeing of NHS staff so as to improve levels of attendance and a preventative approach to sickness absence has enabled NHS staff in Wales to continue to benefit from unsocial hours payments during sickness absence. Additionally, trade unions and employers will also work together to support individuals in our workforce if they face a diagnosis of a terminal illness, and will adopt the TUC “Dying to Work” campaign
In my previous statement I said that the Barnett share alone does not cover the full cost of this agreement so I have decided to invest additional funding to enable this deal to be implemented, in recognition both of the different workforce profile in Wales and the significant reform to the framework. It is right that pay flexibility should be in return for reforms that improve recruitment, retention and boost productivity.
Overall, this pay deal is fair to staff and taxpayers. It will help to improve productivity through stronger evidence based appraisal systems and through that, better staff engagement which we know can help improve outcomes for patients. Work will now continue at pace to ensure staff see the benefits in their pay packets before Christmas.