Eluned Morgan MS, Minister for Health and Social Services
Over the past few weeks we have listened carefully to what NHS Trade Unions have told us are their frustrations so we are really pleased that we have been able to offer a 3% pay increase which will be backdated to April 2022 (1.5% of which will be consolidated and carried over into future years) this is on top of the £1,400 already paid to NHS staff following recommendations of the independent pay review body. It is really important that I am clear that this is the very final offer that I am able to make for 22/23 within the funding available.
But I have also listened this week, to what Trade Unions have been telling me about the frustrations of their members, who are sitting for hours outside hospitals waiting to discharge their patients. I get that people are extremely frustrated that they are not using their skills that they have trained hard to develop and that is why I recognise that we needed to go further than the pay offer. The pressures within the NHS I know have a very specific impact on WAST working conditions, so I understand that the non-pay elements are equally as important because I know that WAST staff want to serve their communities to the best of their abilities.
In recent days I have discussed these WAST specific elements with the Chief Executive and both he and his senior leadership team are committed to doing all that they can, within the specific control of WAST, to improve the workplace experience for all staff.
The problems that are caused by the challenges of getting people home from hospital after they have been treated means that there is knock on effect at the Emergency Departments. This often leads to late shift finishes/ overruns which I understand can cause a significant disruption to the home life of staff.
I have been clear with Health Boards that they must improve the flow as their number one priority in their plans in future. They will need to work with local government and Welsh Government to go further and faster in the development of an integrated community care services ahead of next winter. We believe that this will ease the pressure significantly on ED and make working conditions better for WAST staff.
As a result of the fact that Unite the Union chose to continue strike action this week they have excluded themselves from the formal negotiations at an all Wales level. We are pleased that the conversation has continued with the remaining health unions. During these discussions, I have listened to the Trade Unions representing WAST staff and as a result would like to include the following offer as a WAST specific annex to the final NHS pay offer I issued yesterday.
Specific WAST elements
- We will work with union representatives to ensure that they and their WAST members are able to influence and contribute to the development of an integrated community care service.
- Welsh Government will offer ambulance union representatives the opportunity to work with Welsh Government on working groups to come up with solutions for the issue of improving the flow through hospitals.
- Welsh Government recognises that ambulance workers who stay for long periods outside emergency departments are concerned about fumes from their vehicles and therefore the Welsh Government will begin a roll out of charging points starting with the funding for a minimum of three charging points all Emergency Departments across Wales.
- WAST will postpone the introduction of planned changes to Continuing Professional Development (CPD) time due to be implemented in April, and discussions will continue in social partnership at an organisational level.
- WAST will pause dialogue on the changes to rest break policy, albeit some discussion may be needed in social partnership at an organisational level to clarify a single version of the current arrangements.