Eluned Morgan MS, Minister for Health and Social Services
Following the narrow acceptance of the 2022-23 enhanced pay offer, all unions continued to actively campaign in support of their members legitimate aspirations for pay restoration and to address the cost of living increases.
We have, therefore, continued to work closely in partnership with the health unions for Agenda for Change staff which cover NHS health care professionals, nurses, ambulance staff, porters, cleaners, health care support staff and many others, with the aim of doing all in our ability to address these concerns. I want to recognise the constructive spirit in which unions have participated including suspending industrial action.
I can announce today that we have arrived at a final package of measures for both 2022-23 and for 2023-24 which the health trade unions will be taking to ballot with their members. The majority of trade unions will be recommending accepting the offer, whilst we are disappointed that not all trade unions are able to recommend this offer we are very grateful for the positive attitude taken in discussions in arriving at this best and final offer.
The offer is a significant enhancement beyond the Pay Review Body recommendations and beyond the accepted 2022-23 enhanced offer.
For 2022-23, a collective agreement was reached earlier this year and which provided 3% (1.5% as a non-consolidated cash payment and 1.5% consolidated into pay and backdated to April 2022) on top of the average 4.7% increase already made following the Pay Review Body recommendations.
The additional now being offered in addition for 2022-23 is a one off NHS Recovery Payment and will apply to all substantive staff and bank workers on Agenda for Change terms and conditions on a pro-rated basis. This payment will be on average a 3% non-consolidated payment.
For 2023-24 the offer is for a consolidated across the board increase of 5% with effect from 1st April 2023 to Agenda for Change pay scales. In addition we are also increasing the bottom two pay points to match the salary of a top of Band 2 which equates to a 7.8% increase for 2023-24.
If the offer is accepted this means that, Welsh NHS staff will have received an average an award of over 15.7% (of which 11.2% is consolidated into pay permanently) over 2 years 2022-23 and 2023-24.
This package means that those on the bottom of Band 5, which includes nurses and other health care professionals just starting their careers in NHS Wales, will have received a total pay increase of over 17% (of which over 12% is consolidated) for the financial years for 2022-23 and 2023-24. This sees their starting salary at £28,834.
Our lowest paid NHS staff will have received a pay increase of over 26% (of which over 20% is consolidated) over 2022-23 and 2023-24. This also means our lowest paid workers will be above the real living wage rate from the 1st April 2023 with a starting salary of £22,720 which equates to an hourly rate of £11.39.
Added to this are further enhancements of the non-pay elements of the original 2022-23 offer where we have gone further on unsocial hours allowance and have included a number of benefits which are aimed at improving health workers working lives and career opportunities.
These have been tough negotiations. We have been very open about the difficult financial position we are in as Welsh Government. That is further complicated by the large proportion of the Welsh Government budget that is used to fund the NHS in Wales and the proportion of that NHS budget pays for wages. We lack the flexibility enjoyed by UK Government in terms of both money available and restrictive financial rules.
Hard choices have been required to fund this pay offer and we have drawn on our reserves and underspends from across government to put this offer together. Using this money to increase pay now means we can’t use it for other purposes – but we are confident that this is the right thing to do.
While the union representatives would have wished for even greater increases, they have arrived at their professional judgement that this is the best and final offer that can be negotiated with Welsh Government.
I hope union members will consider carefully the full and final offer and vote to accept. Whilst health trade unions will be balloting members on an individual basis our aspiration from Welsh Government is that the offer is accepted by all unions so that we are able to implement the offer and end the industrial action on pay in NHS Wales.
This statement is being issued during recess in order to keep members informed. Should members wish me to make a further statement or to answer questions on this when the Senedd returns I would be happy to do so.