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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 August 2007, 16:23 GMT 17:23 UK
Pay offer on table for NHS staff
midwife
Midwives were balloted over whether to take industrial action
The government has offered a new pay deal for NHS staff in England.

Nurses and midwives had threatened to take industrial action over a decision to give a 2.5% pay rise in two stages rather than one.

After "intense" talks the Department of Health has offered extra pay for staff on the lowest wages and help towards professional fees for clinical staff.

Unison said they would ballot members on the deal, which is still below inflation for most staff.

This is still a below inflation deal for most, but it is the best offer we are likely to achieve through negotiations and we will be balloting our members over whether they wish to accept it
Mike Jackson, UNISON

The proposed package offers a guaranteed increase in salary of 400 for the lowest paid staff, such as hospital porters.

Those in bands 3 and 4 will receive an additional 38 on top of the 2.5% pay award.

And nurses, midwives and paramedics will all receive an additional 38 towards professional fees.

And a ring-fenced sum of 14 million has been made available for training.

Staged offer

Pay will still be awarded in two instalments, which had been calculated to equate to 1.9% over the year.

Devolved administrations in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland had agreed to pay the 2.5% rise in full in one go.

Health secretary Alan Johnson said his offer preserved the tough line on public sector pay which the government had been forced to take.

"But I believe that it will help low paid staff on the first rung of the career ladder, not only through improved pay, but also through help with training.

"Any potential multi-year deal would have to be good for staff and represent good value for money for patients and the taxpayer and be affordable for the NHS.

"It is only by prudent management of the economy that we have been able to make unprecedented investment in the NHS including the recruitment of 80,000 new nurses since 1997."

Mike Jackson, Unison lead negotiator, said the offer was complex and would effect staff differently depending on where they lived.

"Pay negotiations this year have been dogged by the Treasury's policy of restricting public sector pay.

"This has led to months of long and tough negotiations but at last we have an improved offer to put to members.

"This is still a below inflation deal for most, but it is the best offer we are likely to achieve through negotiations and we will be balloting our members over whether they wish to accept it."

Alastair Henderson, deputy director of NHS Employers, the body representing health trusts, said: "We believe we have struck this balance and hope that the offer will now be accepted by union members."

Dr Peter Carter, General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing said the offer was an improvement and they would be considering it alongside the results of their industrial ballot.

"This offer does not give nurses all that we asked for but it could well be the means to resolve the current dispute and allow us to make progress on a range of workplace and professional issues."




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