NHS Workers Could Get Pay Rise Three Months Early In Bid To End Strikes

Ambulance workers on the picket line outside Waterloo ambulance station in London last month
Ambulance workers on the picket line outside Waterloo ambulance station in London last month

Ambulance workers on the picket line outside Waterloo ambulance station in London last month

NHS workers could see their pay rise for next year brought forward by three months in a bid to end their long-running dispute with the government.

Health secretary Steve Barclay has also agreed to look at making a one-off payment to staff to following crunch talks with union officials this morning.

However, planned walkouts by nurses and ambulance workers are set to still go ahead after the discussions failed to achieve a breakthrough.

Unions are demanding an improvement on the pay offer made to NHS staff by the government for the 2022/23 financial year.

Barclay did not make any improved offer when he met with representatives of the Unite, Unison and GMB unions in Whitehall.

But he did suggest that changes to staff working patterns could free up more cash for pay award for 2023/24.

A government source said: “We need to have a conversation about productivity and efficiency and that may help top up what’s affordable for next year’s pay settlement.”

One suggestion made by the unions for breaking the impasse was bringing forward the 2023/24 pay award, which is due to kick in from April, until January 1.

Another union proposal for ending the strike action was a one-off payment for NHS staff this year.

“Steve [Barclay] listened to what they had to say and agreed to take it away,” the Whitehall source said.

The source described the talks as “constructive”, but Unite official Onay Kasab - who was not present at the talks with Barclay - condemned the government.

Speaking outside the Department of Health, he said: “All the government are interested in is saying that in order to justify a payment we need to … come up with productivity in the NHS.

“That is absolutely ludicrous. This isn’t a factory we’re talking about, we’re talking about people who are working well beyond their contracted hours anyway just to get the job done.”

GMB national secretary Rachel Harrison said: “Today’s talks fell well short of anything substantial that could stop this week’s strikes.

“There was some engagement on pay – but not a concrete offer that could help resolve this dispute and make significant progress on the recruitment and retention crisis.

“The public expects the Government to treat these talks seriously – it’s time they got on with it.”

Related...