The passion, commitment, and specialist knowledge of NHS staff is part of what makes the NHS so special. The coronavirus pandemic has only underlined that, and we all owe NHS staff a great deal of gratitude for their integral role in our national effort to combat the virus.
I am pleased that, despite the need to get our public finances under control after the pandemic, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has confirmed that NHS staff, as well as the lowest-paid public sector workers, will receive pay rises next year, and will be exempt from the public sector pay freeze. It is only right that the contribution of NHS staff during this pandemic is recognised with a pay rise in 2021.
In 2018, a deal was agreed ensuring a 6.5% pay rise for over a million NHS workers on Agenda for Change contracts over three years. This included a 12% increase in the starting salary for a newly qualified nurse, and a pay rise of up to 11% for paramedics. This pay rise was supported by £800 million in Government funding for 2018-19, and funded afterwards by the Government’s long term funding settlement for the NHS, providing increased funding of £33.9 billion per year by 2023-24.
The Government’s unwavering support for NHS staff predates the pandemic, and will continue afterwards. I understand that the NHS Pay Review Body, which covers staff on Agenda for Change contracts, will return to making recommendations for next year’s pay awards, and that these recommendations are expected early in the new year when the three-year deal ends.