UK healthcare workers to decide on new pay offer by end of April -unions

Protest by junior doctors in London

By Sarah Young

LONDON (Reuters) - Healthcare workers in England will decide by the end of April whether to accept a government pay proposal aimed at ending strikes which have disrupted hospital and emergency care, two trade unions said on Friday.

Britain sought to end months of walk-outs in the healthcare sector on Thursday by offering a 5% wage increase for the coming year for 1 million nurses, paramedics, midwives and other workers in England. Union members will now vote on the offer.

One of the unions, Unison, said on Friday that results from all unions involved would be in by the end of April, while the GMB union said its ballot would take about four weeks.

The offer includes a one-off payment of 2% of 2022/23 salaries and a 5% pay rise for 2023/24, which begins in early April, the government said.

Three of the unions — Unison, GMB and the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) — have recommended their members accept the offer, while another, Unite, has said that while its members will vote on the proposal, it did not recommend they accept it.

Unions had generally sought wage hikes more in line with inflation, which has been near 10%.

"Key issues are that the non-consolidated lump sum won't help the recruitment crisis and the offer for next year is far below the current rate of inflation," a Unite spokesperson said by email.

Strikes by the healthcare workers involved have been paused while the offer is considered, but will only formally end if members approve the deal in votes or consultations over the coming weeks.

The pay proposal does not apply to junior doctors, who are in a separate dispute.

(Reporting by Sarah Young, Editing by Kylie MacLellan)