Daily Mail

After 5% pay offer, is end in sight for most NHS strikes?

- By Shaun Wooller Health Editor

HEALTH unions have agreed to pause strikes and ballot members on a new pay offer that is set to cost taxpayers an extra £5.5 billion.

Industrial action by nurses, ambulance workers and physiother­apists has led to the cancellati­on of more than 140,000 operations and appointmen­ts.

But in a major boost to the NHS, staff and patients, union representa­tives yesterday announced they had negotiated an improved deal.

If accepted, the offer will see the one million staff on the Agenda for Change contract receive a 5 per cent pay rise in 2023/24, plus an additional payment to the lowest paid to bring them in line with the national living wage. Each worker would also receive a backdated 2 per cent non-consolidat­ed payment for 2022/23 and a ‘Covid recovery bonus’ worth an average of 4 per cent. It means staff would receive a one-off payment of between £1,655 and £3,789, in addition to the £1,400 consolidat­ed pay rise already in place for 2022/23.

The Government has also agreed a series of non-pay measures, including steps to tackle violence against health staff and better support for career developmen­t.

Questions remain over the true cost of the deal to the taxpayer and how it will be funded by the cash-strapped health service. The GMB union said the Government had put an extra £2.5 billion on the table for this year, but estimates by the Institute for Fiscal Studies put the new deal at around £ 5.5 billion more than previously offered.

Ministers have guaranteed there will be no impact on frontline services, but discussion­s are understood to be taking place with the Treasury to decide where the extra funds will come from.

The new offer also includes midwives and porters but not junior doctors, who are on a different contract and who this week staged a three-day walkout in pursuit of a 35 per cent pay rise.

The NHS Staff Council, which includes the Department of Health, NHS England, NHS Employers and health unions, met to finalise the details yesterday. The Royal College of Nursing, Royal College of Midwives, Chartered Society of Physiother­apy, Unison and GMB, which are on the council, say they will advise their members to accept the deal in a vote.

But Unite said it will not make a recommenda­tion.

Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederat­ion, said health leaders will ‘breathe a sigh of relief’. He added: ‘Our members hope this will bring an end to the strikes.’

Rishi Sunak said: ‘We have taken a reasonable approach throughout and this offer is good for NHS staff, it’s good for the taxpayer and most importantl­y it is good news for patients, whose care will no longer be disrupted.’

 ?? ?? Breakthrou­gh: Rishi Sunak meets staff at St George’s Hospital in London last night
Breakthrou­gh: Rishi Sunak meets staff at St George’s Hospital in London last night

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