Chancellor's budget promises funds to cover nursing pay rise

Chancellor Philip Hammond committed £2.8 billion resource funding for the NHS in England

Chancellor Philip Hammond committed £2.8 billion resource funding for the NHS in England

  • Chancellor pledges additional funding to cover pay rise for nurses in autumn budget.
  • Philip Hammond said funding would be made available if talks between the government and health unions ‘bear fruit’.

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Chancellor Philip Hammond has pledged to make funding available to cover a pay rise for nurses in today’s autumn budget.

Mr Hammond promised funding to cover any settlement in government talks with health unions on NHS pay.

The RCN welcomed the announcement, but warned nurses needed a 'meaningful pay rise'.

It also called on the government to allow the independent Pay Review Body, which makes recommendations to the government on pay for different NHS staff groups, to be allowed to genuinely independent of government 'for the first time in years' and be given the freedom to recommend a proper pay rise.

'Deserve gratitude'

Mr Hammond told the Commons: ‘Our nation’s nurses provide an invaluable support to us all in our greatest times of need and deserve our deepest gratitude for their tireless efforts.

‘The health secretary has already begun discussions with health unions on pay structure modernisation for Agenda for Change staff to improve recruitment and retention

'He will submit evidence to Pay Review Body in due course. I want to assure NHS staff and patients that if these talks bear fruit, I will protect patient services by providing additional funding for such a settlement.’

The announcement comes after health secretary Jeremy Hunt last month said that the 1% cap on pay rises for nurses and other NHS staff was to be scrapped.

Above-inflation calls

The RCN and other unions have called an above-inflation pay rise of 3.9% to address an estimated 14% real-terms pay cut nurses have suffered since pay restraint was introduced in 2010.

RCN general secretary Janet Davies said: 'The chancellor has listened to the tens of thousands of nursing staff who’ve been campaigning for fair pay, and he was right to address their concerns.

'Promising the NHS additional money for nursing pay is welcome but Philip Hammond must make it a meaningful pay rise.

'The NHS has been running on the goodwill of its staff for too long, and with more talk of reform and productivity, Mr Hammond runs the risk of insulting nurses who regularly stay at work unpaid after 12-hour shifts. Their goodwill will not last indefinitely.

'Nursing pay has fallen further and further below the cost of living for the past seven years, with a gap now worth £3,000 a year. In the months to come, the government must allow the NHS Pay Review Body to be genuinely independent of government for the first time in years, as well as giving it the freedom to recommend a meaningful pay rise.

Earlier in his speech Mr Hammond paid tribute to dedicated NHS staff handling challenges of an ageing population and rapidly advancing technology with 'skill and commitment'.

‘Even with additional funding we acknowledge service remains under pressure and today we will respond.’

He went on to announce that NHS in England has been given an additional £350 million to cope with pressures over the coming winter.

Mr Hammond committed resource funding of £2.8 billion to the NHS in England.

This includes the immediate funds for winter planning, £1.6 billion in 2018-19 and the rest the year after.

'Great deal to discuss'

Responding to the budget, NHS Employers chief executive Danny Mortimer said: ‘We look forward to continuing to work with trade union colleagues and the Department of Health to agree how contract arrangements can be reformed and our employees benefit a welcome lifting of the pay cap. 

‘There is a great deal to discuss but the chancellor’s commitment to fund the additional pay bill is welcome.’

Mr Mortimer also said the NHS needed extra funding for continuing professional development, a reformed migration policy and greater flexibility in apprenticeships.

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