The fight against COVID-19 has been a national effort, and I know the Government is committed to giving NHS staff, including nurses, the additional support they need throughout it, and the recognition they deserve both during and after the pandemic.
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 nurses and doctors, as well as the lowest-paid public sector workers, will be exempt from the public sector pay freeze. It is right that the contribution of NHS staff during this pandemic is recognised with a pay rise in 2021.
A deal was agreed in 2018 ensuring a 6.5% pay rise for over one million NHS workers, including nurses, on Agenda for Change contracts over three years. The starting salary for a newly qualified nurse has also increased by over 12% under this deal. The Government set aside £800 million to support this deal for 2018-19, and the Government’s long term funding settlement for the NHS, providing increased funding of £33.9 billion per year by 2023-24, is funding the pay rise for the rest of the deal’s duration.
I understand that the NHS Pay Review Body, covering 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.
In related news, I recently called in Parliament for consideration of a specialised fast-track training course for care workers seeking to go into nursing. I believe that such a programme would recognise the value and transferable skills of our care workers, and also help fulfil the Government’s goal of recruiting 50,000 more nurses for the NHS.