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New pay deal for NHS staff announced: All NHS staff in Wales to receive the living wage

The NHS in Wales will become a living wage employer, Health Minister Mark Drakeford announced today (Weds 9th July). 

All staff will be paid at least the living wage of £7.65 an hour – more than the minimum wage rate of £6.31 an hour – as part of the change, which will come into force from September.

This means that about 2,400 of the lowest paid employees in the NHS in Wales will receive an increase in their basic salary of up to £470 in some cases.

The Living Wage Commission has called for all public sector workers to be paid a living wage of at least £7.65 per hour.  

The living wage announcement is part of the wider pay deal for NHS staff which also includes:

  • A one-off payment of £160 for all NHS staff under Agenda for Change contracts (those staff other than doctors and dentists), excluding very senior managers, plus incremental pay progression for eligible staff when it is due;
  • No pay uplift for very senior managers for 2014-15;
  • A non-consolidated 1% pay award for consultants at the top of their commitment award scale; those not at the top of their scale will get their incremental pay rise when it is due;
  • A non-consolidated 1% pay award for speciality and associate specialist doctors, dentists and doctors-in-training who are at the top of their pay scales. Those not at the top of their scales will get their incremental pay rise when it is due.

Professor Drakeford said:

“I have been clear that my priority is to maintain jobs in NHS Wales but with pay accounting for more than 60% of the NHS budget, in an age of austerity we have no choice but to consider some form of pay restraint to maintain those jobs and services.

“Following the recommendations from the pay review bodies earlier this year, we have been keen to work with representatives from professional bodies and trade unions about how an equivalent sum to that being made available in England can be distributed to NHS staff in Wales.  

“It has been my intention that this should be implemented as fairly as possible and benefit as many staff as possible. The decisions I have taken have been influenced by working in partnership with NHS employers, staff side representatives and my officials.

“Staff who currently earn less than the living wage of £7.65 per hour will receive a pay rise to bring them up to this rate. This sends a clear signal that the Welsh Government is committed to tackling poverty and that NHS Wales is a fair, equitable employer.

“I have also decided the fairest option that will benefit the majority of workers is to award all Agenda for Change staff a flat cash payment of £160 and to protect the ability for  those not at the top of their pay bands to move up to the next increment when it becomes due. This will mean that more than nine out of 10 NHS staff will receive a pay award in 2014-15.

“At a time when there is ongoing financial pressure on the NHS, I think it is only reasonable that those with the broadest shoulders must bear their share of the burden. I have therefore agreed that very senior managers will not receive an award this year.  

“Consultants will also benefit from the pay deal, with a non-consolidated, 1% increase for those at the top of the commitment award scale. Specialty and associate specialist doctors and doctors-in-training at the top of their scale will also get a non-consolidated 1% award. This is in addition to incremental progression when it is due.”

The awards to medical staff in Wales are consistent with those in England for 2014-15.

The deal will take effect from September, subject to implementation of the changes to the Agenda for Change terms and conditions, which were agreed earlier this year.

The Minister also today made an announcement about the future of the Welsh consultants’ contract.

He said:

“In the absence of meaningful negotiations with BMA Wales, I feel I have no option but to conclude that it is no longer viable to maintain a separate Welsh contract. In the future, a shared contract across England, Northern Ireland and Wales has the potential to offer significant benefits for Wales.  

“We will seek formally to join the England and Northern Ireland negotiations with a view to implementing this contract in the future, which ensures consultants in Wales have the same opportunities as their colleagues in other parts of the UK.”

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