Plaid Cymru accuses Welsh Government of ‘lacking the will’ to offer nurses a fair pay deal
Plaid Cymru Leader Adam Price has accused the Welsh Government of “lacking the will” to invest in nurses and claims a pay offer of 8% is possible using existing reserves and unallocated funding.
Mr Price says that information obtained from the Finance Minister proves that Welsh Government has sufficient money to offer a pay increase which is more than 3% above what is currently on the table.
The current offer from the government provides around 4.8% uplift on average for NHS staff.
To arrive at an 8% initial offer would require an extra £176m in the current financial year.
Plaid Cymru says that the money could come from a combination of the £152.3m of currently unallocated funding in the Welsh Government’s budget, a draw down from the Wales Reserve in addition to any projected under-spends in current departmental budgets.
Mr Price says that the current offer on the table – a one-off payment to nurses of an unspecified amount – will do nothing to improve the long term sustainability of the profession, nor will it help attract new entrants.
The impact on next year’s budget of an increased pay offer could be funded through a combination of reduced reliance on private sector agency staff and progressive use of the Welsh Government’s income tax powers.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has recently indicated it’s “prepared to be real about that economic climate” and is willing to negotiate on pay.
Mr Price said: “A fairer pay award is not only essential, it’s possible to do – whatever the Westminster Government decides. When there is a clear way forward to increase the pay award to nurses, the only question that remains is whether the Welsh Government has the will to invest in our nurses.
“Nurses need fair pay, and this pay needs to be awarded in a way that helps ensure sustainability of the profession.
“Welsh Government has been quick to boast that in Wales, we do things differently. But when it comes to the treatment of nurses, paramedics and other NHS staff fighting for fairer pay, the Welsh Labour Government appears doomed to repeat the mistakes of the Tories in Westminster. In the same weekend the Tories announce a one-off payment for nurses in England, without increasing the pay award, we hear that Welsh Labour Government is planning to do the same for nurses here in Wales.
“A one-off payment will not help keep nurses in the job, nor will it attract new people into nursing. Our NHS is nothing without its workers, and making a substantially improved pay offer – which is completely achievable – would show that the Welsh Government is committed to investing in the future of this essential public service on which we all depend.”
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