Thank you for contacting me about NHS pay and recruitment.
I believe that the passion, commitment, and specialist knowledge of our NHS staff is part of what makes our NHS so special. In particular, I recognise the sacrifice, commitment and dedication of so many NHS workers over the past year. I believe it is important to honour this, but the pandemic has had real consequences on public finances which cannot be ignored.
I fully support the mission to make the NHS the safest, highest quality healthcare system in the world. Over 14,000 more doctors and over 13,000 more nurses have arrived on our wards in the past decade.
I have added more detail about Agenda for Change and the 2021 Pay Recommendations as well as links to more information below.
I have been assured that what the Government has tried to do with its recommendation for a 1 per cent pay rise for NHS staff is to give NHS staff as much as it can at the present time. It is also worth seeing this in the broader context - all but the lowest paid workers across the public sector have had their pay frozen for 2021/22. In addition, we should not forget that over one million NHS staff also continue to benefit from multi-year pay deals agreed with trade unions, including a pay rise of over 12 per cent for newly qualified nurses, with the average nurse pay now £34,000 per year, and that junior doctors' pay has been increased by 8.2 per cent. Under the Agenda for Change, all nurses receive pay increases of at least 6.5 per cent and paramedics receive up to 11 per cent.
Ministers set aside £800 million to support the deal for 2018/19, and the Government’s long term funding settlement for the NHS, which will provide increased funding of £33.9 billion per year by 2023/24, is funding the pay rise over the remaining two years. Those on the lowest salaries in the NHS are seeing the largest proportionate pay rises: the lowest NHS starting salary has increased year on year from £15,404 to £18,005 in 2020/2021. Many nurses and healthcare assistants are enjoying pay increases of at least 2.5 per cent.
I know that the Independent Pay Review Bodies will make recommendations in late Spring, when they will be considered by the Government. It is right that the Government does not pre-empt these recommendations.
I also welcome the investment that the Government has already made in the NHS workforce, including £513m in professional development and increased recruitment, £30m on staff mental health support including wellbeing hubs and occupational health support, and the new bursary programme giving at least £5,000 each year to new nursing, midwifery, and Allied Health professional students.
I am sure that you will be as encouraged as I am by figures from UCAS which show record numbers applying for nursing courses. According to the UCAS website 'Total applications for nursing courses have risen by almost a third (32%) to reach 60,130, with increases seen in each age group – from UK 18 year old school leavers (a record 16,560 applicants, up 27% on 2020) to mature students aged 35 and over, where for the first time over 10,000 (10,770, a 39% rise) have applied.'
The NHS Long Term Plan sets out action to expand the number of undergraduate places, ensuring well-qualified candidates are not turned away. New routes into nursing, including apprenticeships, nursing associates, online qualification, and ‘earn and learn’ support, are all being backed, alongside a new post-qualification employment guarantee. International recruitment will also be expanded up to 2023/24.
I wholeheartedly support the Government's commitment to recruit 50,000 more nurses, in addition to the 7,500 further nurse associates announced previously. The introduction of the new Nursing Degree Apprenticeship and nursing associate roles will significantly bolster the nursing workforce in the short term, as we continue to build an NHS workforce for the future.
As committed to in the Conservative manifesto, nursing students receive a £5,000 - £8,000 maintenance grant every year during their course to help with the cost of living, which they won't have to pay back. All students will receive at least £5,000, with further funding in regions or disciplines that are struggling to recruit, such as mental health, as well as help with childcare costs.
Nursing, midwifery and allied health students often have unique circumstances because of the length of their degree programmes and time in clinical placement sittings. The Government now helps to cover additional expenses like travel and provide more support for students with children.
NHS staff are playing an integral part of the national effort to combat coronavirus - and we owe them a great deal of gratitude for all that they do. I know the Government is committed to supporting all staff now and in the future. Its unwavering support for frontline staff predates this unprecedented challenge.
I will, of course, continue to monitor this issue closely, and thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
Craig Whittaker MP
Agenda for Change
The Agenda for Change scheme was a multi-year pay deal which allocated posts to set pay bands, using the Job Evaluation Scheme. The pay system was designed to:
- deliver fair pay for non-medical staff based on the principle of 'equal pay for work of equal value'
- provide better links between pay and career progression using the Knowledge and Skills Framework
- harmonise terms and conditions of service such as annual leave, hours and sick pay, and work done in 'unsocial hours’
Staff were placed in one of nine pay bands based on their knowledge, responsibility, skills and effort needed for the job. The assessment of each post, using the Job Evaluation Scheme (JES), determines the correct pay band for each post, and as a result, the correct basic pay. Within each pay band, there are several pay points. As staff successfully develop their skills and knowledge, they progress in annual increments up to the maximum of their pay band.
The pay system provides benefits for both staff and employers. For employers the system provides greater flexibility to enable them to:
- devise new ways of working that best deliver the range and quality of services required, to best meet the needs of patients
- design jobs around the needs of patients rather than around grading definitions
- define the core skills and knowledge they want staff to develop in each job
- pay extra to address local recruitment and retention difficulties.
For staff the key benefits include:
- a system that is fair and transparent
- recognition and reward for the skills and competencies staff acquire throughout their career
- harmonised conditions of service.
The Agenda for Change multi-year settlement ended in 2020/21.
For more information about salaries and professions within each band, please see:
2021 Pay Recommendations
In March 2021, the Department of Health and Social Care submitted written evidence to the NHS Pay Review Body for the 2021 to 2022 pay round.
The NHSPRB has been asked to make pay recommendations for the pay round 2021 to 2022. This follows the multi-year pay and contract reform deal for NHS staff covered by Agenda for Change, during which the government did not ask for recommendations on pay.
This written evidence seeks to enable the NHSPRB to make independent recommendations, weighing all of the evidence, including the importance of affordability within the current challenging economic and fiscal context, along with recruitment and retention trends and staff motivation.