Eluned Morgan MS, Minister for Health and Social Services
I have agreed to implement a pay award of 5% for 2023/24 for those employed in the NHS on Medical and Dental terms and conditions, which covers consultants, doctors and dentists in training, and our SAS doctors on the 2008 contracts, and for SAS doctors on the 2021 contracts an uplift of 1.5% in addition to the existing multi-year deal which recognises that these doctors are the only group to have the same contract terms and conditions across England and Wales.
This pay award for our doctors and dentists mirrors that of the pay award I confirmed in May for other NHS health care professionals including nurses, ambulance staff, porters, cleaners, health care support staff and many others who are not hospital doctors.
Unlike previous years, we are unable to fully fund the recommendations made in the Doctors and Dentist Pay Review Body (DDRB). This is, of course, not the position we wish to be in Wales where we are committed to social partnership and recognise the hard work and dedication of our doctors and dentists and indeed all of our NHS Wales staff.
Without additional funding from UK government we are not currently in a position to make a higher offer. When we set our budget for 2023-24, we drew on all our available resources to protect frontline services and provide targeted cost-of-living support to individuals and the economy. But even after doing all that, our financial position after the UK Spring Budget in March, was up to £900 million lower in real terms than when that budget was set by the UK government at the time of the last spending review in 2021. This is the toughest financial situation we have faced since devolution. Despite best efforts we have also not received any consequentials nor had any indication that consequentials will be forthcoming from UK government as a result of the pay awards they have made to NHS staff in England.
Whilst I recognise that the offer we have made to doctors and dentists in Wales will be extremely disappointing, we are unable to make a better offer at this stage. We will be working over the summer to mitigate these budgetary pressures based on our principles, which include protecting frontline public services, as far as possible, and targeting support towards those at greatest need. However with no additional funding from UK government difficult decisions have to be made.
I recognise that the BMA are disappointed about the value of the pay offer and are preparing to consult their members about the next steps in pursuit of their pay claim. However, I am arranging for this pay award to be made as soon as possible as in a cost of living crisis, it is better for people to have the increased pay that is available for them to spend now, even if it does not meet their full aspirations.
Welsh Government remains fully committed to working in tripartite social partnership, through our Welsh Partnership Forum, to deliver better working lives for NHS staff and better public services for our people and remain available to talk to the BMA at any time.
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.