NHS staff were in line for 2.1% pay rise before the pandemic

Health workers were in line for 2.1% pay rise before pandemic, head of NHS England claims

Sir Simon Stevens, the chief of NHS England, has confirmed that health workers were set to benefit from a 2.1% pay rise before the Covid-19 pandemic hit.

The government has recently sparked controversy by suggesting NHS staff will get a 1% pay rise this year, which was met by anger from the general public.

Stevens told MPs he wanted NHS workers to get a “proper reward” for their hard work and that he could “see the attraction” of them receiving a one-off bonus payment.

However, he backed the government’s approach, saying the level of pay rise should be up to a pay review panel.

He told the Health and Social Care Committee that he had budgeted for the 2.1% pay rise, but that “things have changed” since 2019.

“You would expect the head of the health service to want to see properly rewarded NHS staff, particularly given everything that the service has been through over the course of the last year,” Stevens said.

“And so I think the right way to resolve this is the path the government has actually set out, which is to ask the independent pay review bodies to look at all of the evidence… and be able to independently make a fair recommendation so that NHS staff get the pay and reward that they deserve.”

Some Conservative MPs are calling for a one-off bonus payment, which are offered in Scotland and Northern Ireland, for NHS England staff, as a “thank you” for their hard work during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Stevens said: “That’s a discussion to be had in the round, whether that or whether underlying other action is the right approach, obviously we can see the attractions of that but that might not be the only answer.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has defended the 1% pay rise, stating that it was all the government can afford “at the present time”.

Nurses have described it as “insulting”, with unions threatening strikes and warning that the “pitiful” pay rise may result in NHS staff quitting their jobs in the midst of a global pandemic.

Currently, the lowest minimum full-time salary for newly-employed drivers, housekeeping assistants, nursery assistants and domestic support workers is £18,005 per year.

For newly-qualified nurses, the starting salary is £24,907.

Staff in “high-cost areas” like London benefit from extra payments.

The final decision on the pay rise will be made in May after the independent panel makes recommendations for workers’ pay for the 2021/2022 period.

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