Healthcare unions have slammed the Government's 3% pay uplift for NHS workers in England saying it doesn’t go far enough in recognising the efforts made by frontline staff in the last 18 months.

The Welsh government has said staff working for the NHS in Wales will get the same.

While the award is higher than the initial 1% proposed by the Government earlier this year, it is lower than the amounts unions have been campaigning for and does not address significant pay erosion experienced in recent years.

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The British Medical Association (BMA) says it fails to provide additional uplifts to those doctors with previously agreed pay deals – which means thousands of doctors, including all junior doctors, get nothing additional in this proposal despite the extraordinary sacrifices made on the frontline throughout the pandemic. 

BMA council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: “Doctors have risked their health, and some have even lost their lives as they have worked to treat patients and protect the nation against a deadly virus. Scores of doctors have not taken annual leave and have worked extra hours without pay as they served the nation. Now they face a gruelling year ahead with millions of patients on waiting lists, and the country in the midst of another Covid-19 wave.  

“Our members have been left exhausted, burned out and on the verge of physical and mental breaking point by the past 18 months. Junior doctors and GPs on multi-year pay deals in England have given just as much of themselves as all doctors to care for their patients – and yet have been callously disregarded in this pay award and will receive less than their peers."

Pay cut for England’s most senior and highly-skilled clinicians

With inflation currently predicted to increase to close to 4% later this year, the BMA believes the uplift should be seen for what it is – another real-terms pay cut for England’s most senior and highly-skilled clinicians.

More than 4,000 doctors and members of the public have written to their local MP demanding a fair pay rise for all doctors, recognising how the profession has gone above and beyond in response to the incredible demands on the health service, the BMA says it is a shame the Government hasn’t seen fit to do the same.

BMA junior doctors committee chair Dr Sarah Hallett said: "The burden shouldered by junior doctors during the pandemic has been immense, and therefore the Government’s decision to exclude them from the pay uplift announced today is nothing short of insulting. In refusing to award the additional 1% to junior doctors in England above their multi-year pay deal, ministers have shown little regard for the enormous contributions of junior doctors over the last 18 months.

“We have spent days on Covid wards with no end in sight, redeployed into unfamiliar departments, and all against a backdrop of ill-fitting or non-existent PPE that left junior doctors fearing for their safety and the safety of their patients."

Government could turn their clapping into genuine recognition

With health workers’ morale rock bottom this was opportunity for Government to turn their clapping in to genuine recognition, says GMB, the union for NHS and ambulance workers.

It says the Government has failed spectacularly with their much delayed offer on NHS pay that has been sneaked out to avoid Parliamentary scrutiny as MPs are packing up for summer holidays.

Rachel Harrison, GMB National Officer said: “NHS staff are on their knees – exhausted, fatigued and anxious – as we look set to enter another wave of the Covid pandemic. Staff morale is rock bottom. Hospitals and ambulance services are operating under extreme pressures due to rising demand and staffing shortages.  

"Now, rather than focussing on staff welfare they are being advised to enter the workplace against self-isolation advice and now given this frankly appalling pay offer. NHS workers know their worth and so do the public - shame on the government who don’t." 

Nurses will remain dignified in responding to a bitter blow

The Royal College of Nursing may consider industrial action for its members according to a BBC report.

RCN General Secretary and Chief Executive Pat Cullen said: “Hospitals and other parts of the NHS are struggling to recruit nurses and health care support workers. The government has been warned that many more are on the verge of leaving. With today’s decision, ministers have made it even harder to provide safe care to patients. 

“This announcement is light on detail. It must be fully-funded with additional monies for the NHS and ringfenced for the workforce bill. 

“Nursing staff will remain dignified in responding to what will be a bitter blow to many. But the profession will not take this lying down. We will be consulting our members on what action they would like to take next.”