Nurses and carers left out of government pay rise for public sector workers

Kalila Sangster
·4-min read
A doctor joins a silent protest during a national "clap for carers" to show thanks for the work of Britain's NHS (National Health Service) workers and other frontline medical staff around the country as they battle with the novel coronavirus pandemic, outside  Downing Street in London on May 28, 2020. (Photo by Tolga Akmen / AFP) (Photo by TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)
An NHS worker joins a silent protest during a 'clap for carers' outside Downing Street, London, in May. Photo: Tolga Akmen/AFP via Getty Images

Nurses in the UK are feeling left out and excluded from the government’s public sector pay rise announcement for nearly 900,000 public sector workers.

Employees benefitting include doctors, the armed forces, teachers, police officers, the National Crime Agency staff, prison officers, dentists, the judiciary, senior civil servants and senior military personnel. They will receive above inflation pay rises this year, to reflect their work during the coronavirus pandemic, the UK government announced on Tuesday (21 July).

But nurses will have to wait until April next year to be considered for a pay rise.

Nurses weren't included in this week's pay rise for public sector workers, because they are locked into a three-year pay deal that ends in April 2021.

More than 1 million NHS workers, including nurses, paramedics and other clinical staff, are already part of a separate pay deal, known as the Agenda for Change, which does not end until April 2021, meaning they miss out on this year’s pay rise.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced on Tuesday that doctors would receive a 2.8% increase in pay that would be backdated to April this year. He said: “These past months have underlined what we always knew — that our public sector workers make a vital contribution to our country and that we can rely on them when we need them.

READ MORE: Pay rise for almost 900,000 UK public sector workers

“It’s right therefore that we follow the recommendations of the independent pay bodies with this set of real-terms pay rises.”

However, Royal College of Nursing general secretary Dame Donna Kinnair wrote in the Mirror: “For all the tributes in parliament, in speeches or on TV, very few nursing staff feel more valued by politicians.

“I don’t doubt the sincerity of their comments but it’s time to match the warm words with cash — a pay rise tops the list of improvements my members need to see.

“Not a ‘Covid bonus’ but real recognition that, for too many years, the nursing pay hasn’t kept pace with the education and clinical responsibilities of the job.”

Under the Agenda for Change deal the starting pay for a newly qualified nurse has increased by over 12% since 2017 to 2018 and all nurses have received pay increases of at least 6.5%, according to the UK government.

But many nurses feel that their work during the coronavirus crisis is not being valued, with many people voicing their disappointment on social media and highlighting a feeling of betrayal especially in light of the ‘Clap for Carers’ initiative, which encouraged people to applaud NHS staff from their homes on a Thursday evening during the height of the pandemic.

The NHS pay review body, who cover Agenda for Change staff, is expected to return to making recommendations for next year’s pay awards.

Trades Union Congress general secretary Frances O’Grady also called for social care workers to join the ranks of those being offered a pay rise.

“These rises are welcome, but there’s still a long way to go to restore pay after a decade of real terms cuts,” she said.

“Many public sector workers, like job centre staff and local government workers, aren’t getting these rises. They deserve a decent pay settlement too.

READ MORE: Third of furloughed hotel and food staff 'at risk of redundancy'

“And the government should urgently announce a pay rise for social care workers, who put their lives on the line to care for others during this pandemic.”

Unison assistant general secretary Christina McAnea called for “more resources for local authorities” so council staff and social care workers could also be entitled to a “decent wage increase.”

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