Below inflation pay rise a ‘bitter blow’ for healthcare workers says Plaid Cymru
Plaid Cymru has joined the RCN and BMA in Wales in condemning the pay rise announced for NHS staff by Health Minister Eluned Morgan yesterday as a “bitter blow” and say it is “significant pay cut in real terms”.
The increase is in line with the recommendations of NHS pay review bodies but is lower than the rate of inflation, which is expected to top 11% in the coming months.
Ms Morgan said the recommendation amounts to a £1400 increase for most grades and comes on top of the Real Living Wage top-up previously announced, which came into effect in April.
The government has also agreed the recommendations of the Doctors’ and Dentists’ Review Body (DDRB) to increase pay by 4.5% for junior doctors, consultants, GPs and dentists employed directly by the health boards.
Despite not being within the DDRB’s remit, specialty and specialist doctors on the 2021 contract will receive a one-off £1,400 payment in recognition of the unprecedented cost-of-living crisis.
Responding to the announcement by Welsh Government, Plaid Cymru Health and Care spokesperson Rhun ap Iorwerth MS said: “Any pay award that is below inflation is a significant pay cut in real terms.
“This will be a bitter blow for healthcare workers who have shown so much dedication during such an unprecedented and challenging time.
“In addition to ensuring that salaries catch-up with today’s living costs, there also needed to be an uplift to make up for a decade and more of cuts.
“The Welsh Government have failed to do that in recent years and now, as the cost-of-living soars, it is our front-line workers who are bearing the brunt.”
Pitiful and insulting
Helen Whyley, director of the Royal College of Nursing in Wales said: “Nurses will be outraged to hear the pay award is well below inflation yet again.
“This pitiful and insulting pay announcement does not even come close to making up for the fall in the value of nursing pay, compared with a decade ago.”
She also warned the pay offer would not inspire young people to become nurses or help to fill nursing vacancies in Wales, and added the union would consider taking the unprecedented step of balloting members on whether to take industrial action.
Vicky Richards of the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) said the uplift will not be enough to counter the rising cost of living adding: “We are disappointed they have not listened to our warnings of the consequences of a below inflation pay rise,”
Meanwhile, BMA Wales council chairman Dr David Bailey called the deal “shameful” and said: “It is nothing short of a kick in the teeth for hard-working doctors in Wales.”
Announcing the decision Ms Morgan said: “Our NHS staff have worked incredibly hard throughout the pandemic to keep us all safe and they continue to provide an incredible service in the face of intense pressures.
“I hope this pay award goes some way to recognise their hard work but without additional funding from the UK Government, there are inevitably limits to how far we can go in Wales. We continue to press them to pass on the full funding necessary for fair pay rises for public sector workers.
“We are all facing a cost-of-living crisis. We have structured this pay award so the lowest paid staff in the NHS would see the biggest uplift in their pay, equivalent to a 10.8% pay rise, making the NHS in Wales the highest-paying UK nation for staff in the lowest pay bands.”
For the lowest paid staff (bands 1 to 4), which make up nearly half of the workforce, the pay rise equates to a 7.5% pay rise on pay grades.
The starting salary for the lowest paid roles in band 1 and the bottom of band 2 in NHS Wales will now be £20,758, while for staff at the top of band 6 and in band 7, the £1,400 payment will be enhanced to be equivalent to a 4% pay rise.
Specialty doctors on the 2008 contract will receive a 4.5% pay increase, but those on the top pay grade in the 2008 contract will receive a one-off payment equivalent to 4.5%.
The recommended 4.5% pay uplift in pay for contracted GPs and dentists is subject to overall contract changes by the General Medical and General Dental Services and negotiations are ongoing.
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.