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Barclay accused of gaslighting nurses with misleading pay comment

Health secretary is criticised for overstating the salary of newly qualified nurses by thousands of pounds amid acrimony over pay dispute
Pay calculations

Health secretary is criticised for overstating the salary of newly qualified nurses by thousands of pounds amid acrimony over pay dispute

Nurses have accused health and social care secretary Steve Barclay of spreading misinformation and ‘all-out gaslighting’ following his comments that a newly qualified nurse ‘typically’ gets paid £31,000.

His claims come as a new analysis by Nursing Standard shows most nurses will see their pay go up by just £18 a week under the government’s pay offer of £1,400, with new starters getting a £28 increase.

Health secretary is criticised for overstating the salary of newly qualified nurses by thousands of pounds amid acrimony over pay dispute

Picture: iStock

Nurses have accused health and social care secretary Steve Barclay of spreading misinformation and ‘all-out gaslighting’ following his comments that a newly qualified nurse ‘typically’ gets paid £31,000.

His claims come as a new analysis by Nursing Standard shows most nurses will see their pay go up by just £18 a week under the government’s pay offer of £1,400, with new starters getting a £28 increase.

Revised NHS Agenda for Change pay bands show that a newly qualified nurse will get paid £27,055 a year following the 2022 pay award, not £31,000 as Mr Barclay suggested.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said the salary claims factored in extra income including overtime and unsocial hours payments.

According to analysis by the Nursing Standard, new starters on band 5 will take home just £28 more a week after deductions of income tax, national insurance and pension contributions.

What the proposed pay rise and tax changes will mean for gross and take-home pay on each Band

Last year a band 5 new starter had a gross salary of £25,655 and after income tax, national insurance and pension contributions took home £1,591 a month, or £367 a week.

This year, with the £1,400 pay rise and tax changes, a band 5 new nurse will start on £27,055. This means they take home £20,572.15 a year, £1,714.35 a month and £395.62 a week – an increase of £28.62 weekly. If student loan repayments are also considered then the amount is even less.

Meanwhile, nurses at the top of band 5 – the most common pay band – have seen their pay increase from £31,534 to £32,934 a year. However, after paying almost £10,000 a year in tax and pension contributions, this translates to just £23,581 take home pay annually.

Ministers told to stop hiding behind the pay review body process

They will take home £453.48 a week – an increase of £18.50 on their previous £435 per week. Nurses working at the middle of band 6 who earn £35,572 annually will see their pay increase by £17.37 a week.

Mr Barclay was accused of misleading the public on social media after he tweeted that a newly qualified nurse ‘typically gets £31,000’, when in fact it is £27,055. Meanwhile, someone on a graduate scheme at Aldi earns £44,000, including a free car, according to website Save the Student.

Unison’s head of health Sara Gorton said delays by the government meant NHS staff had to wait months for this year's pay rise and ‘when it finally arrived, the increase of 72p an hour lagged way behind soaring costs’.

‘Ministers should stop hiding behind the pay review body process to justify their mean-spirited approach to the NHS and its staff,’ she said.

‘The Westminster government knows £1,400 is nowhere near enough to stop experienced health workers from leaving,’ adding in a reference to a pay offer made to nurses in Scotland, ‘It should take a leaf out of Holyrood’s book.’

The DHSC did not respond when asked whether Mr Barclay would correct his salary claims.


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