Page last updated at 10:49 GMT, Monday, 7 April 2008 11:49 UK

Three-year 8% pay offer to nurses

Nurse
The offer is the highest in the public sector

Nurses and other NHS staff have been offered a three-year pay deal worth 8% by the governments in England, Wales and Scotland.

The proposed deal would give over a million staff an increase of 2.75% from April, followed by further increases of 2.4% in 2009/10 and 2.25% in 2010/11.

The offer - the highest in the public sector - is aimed at heading off the threat of NHS industrial action.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown said it was a good deal for nurses and the economy.

He said: "It shows that we can deal with the challenges ahead and deal with them in a long term way that is to the benefit of the nurses, who deserve proper settlements and proper pay for the work that they do, and in the interests of the whole economy, which needs the stability that such a deal will give."

Under the package, a nurse's starting salary will rise to more than 20,000.

The Royal College of Nursing welcomed the offer, which includes a commitment to re-open pay talks should inflation rise sharply, or there are significant changes to the labour market.

We have long argued that fair pay and decent conditions are vital to keep experienced nurses in the profession
Dr Peter Carter
Royal College of Nursing

RCN general secretary Dr Peter Carter said the deal was better than expected.

"Nurses can now focus on doing what matters most, delivering high quality patient care, safe in the knowledge they have some degree of security over their household finances in the coming years.

'Well-balanced package'

Karen Jennings, head of health for the public sector union Unison, said the proposed deal set a new minimum wage for NHS workers of 6.77 an hour, and gives more money to nurses, midwives and paramedics stuck at the top of their grades.

She said: "We will be asking our executive to consider recommending this deal to members as a well-balanced package."

But the Royal College of Midwives said it would not be recommending the deal as the second and third years may end up being below the rate of inflation.

Last year ministers provoked anger among nurses in England by deciding to stage the recommended pay increase, reducing its total value from 2.5% to 1.9%.

The threat of industrial action was averted by a revised offer, which included a 400 flat-rate rise for the lowest paid NHS workers, as well as money towards registration fees.

It is also understood unions were given assurances future pay rises would be more generous.

Health Secretary Alan Johnson said: "I am extremely proud of the outstanding professionalism of NHS staff and the high level of care they deliver for patients day in, day out.

"Today's announcement recognises their tremendous efforts. A multi-year deal ensures security for staff and allows them to plan for their future and the future of their families."

But the reaction to the doctor's pay decision has been much less positive.

Hospital doctors are to get a 2.2% increase in 2008-9 as ministers agreed to the recommendations of the pay review body.

Meanwhile, GP's basic pay will rise by the same amount, although the overall figure will be much less as they also get extra money for performance and providing extra services and there is no increase for this.

It comes as GPs are being asked to open for longer to provide evening and weekend clinics.

However, the first two years after the introduction of a new contract saw their average pay rise by a third, breaking through the 100,000 barrier in the process.

The British Medical Association said the rises were disappointing.

Northern Ireland is expected to rule on NHS pay in the coming days.




SEE ALSO
Nurses 'reluctantly' accept pay
15 Sep 07 |  Health

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