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Will there be a COVID bonus for NHS staff, prime minister?

Boris Johnson evades question with ‘inaccurate and demoralising’ statement on nurses’ pay
Prime Minister Boris Johnson at Downing Street coronavirus briefing, where he is asked about NHS pay

Healthcare staff in Scotland to get one-off payment, but PM would not be drawn on any similar plan in England

Prime minister Boris Johnson side-stepped the issue of whether NHS staff in England can expect a 500 COVID bonus like their counterparts in Scotland.

Speaking at a Downing Street briefing, Mr Johnson instead talked of the three-year 2018 Agenda for Change pay deal , saying: We do our absolute utmost to support our wonderful NHS staff and indeed had a three-year pay package for nurses that I think was 12.8%.

The figure he cited applies solely to newly qualified nurses.

Healthcare staff in Scotland to get one-off payment, but PM would not be drawn on any similar plan in England

Prime Minister Boris Johnson at Downing Street coronavirus briefing, where he is asked about NHS pay
Picture: BBC

Prime minister Boris Johnson side-stepped the issue of whether NHS staff in England can expect a £500 ‘COVID bonus’ like their counterparts in Scotland.

Speaking at a Downing Street briefing, Mr Johnson instead talked of the three-year 2018 Agenda for Change pay deal, saying: ‘We do our absolute utmost to support our wonderful NHS staff and indeed had a three-year pay package for nurses that I think was 12.8%.’

The figure he cited applies solely to newly qualified nurses.

‘The most experienced nursing staff saw the value of their salaries fall’

RCN general secretary Dame Donna Kinnair said: ‘We urge the prime minister and fellow ministers to be accurate when discussing nursing pay,’ she said.

‘This kind of message is demoralising to our members. Far from getting a pay rise, the most experienced and long-serving nursing staff – nearly half the profession – saw the value of their salaries fall by 15.3% between 2010 and last year.

‘Nurses at the top of band 5 had a salary of £30,615 last year, which would have been more than £5,000 higher if it had kept pace with inflation. This is a real terms gap of 15.3%.’

At the same press conference, NHS England’s chief executive, Sir Simon Stevens, said staff wanted respite from ‘an incredibly demanding and continuous year of pressure… and staffing pressures to be taken seriously in the years to come’.

Coronavirus bonuses for healthcare staff in Scotland and Northern Ireland

NHS staff in Scotland will get a £500 bonus in their pay packets in February.

Staff working in social care will receive the same bonus in March.

The one-off payment was announced by first minister Nicola Sturgeon in November 2020.

Northern Ireland will join Scotland in offering a £500 COVID-19 pay bonus to health and social care staff in the country.

Health minister Robin Swann said: ‘Last Spring we stood on our doorsteps every Thursday evening and clapped for our heroes and, while it was a thoughtful display of support, I think we all knew that it was never enough and they deserve more than our thanks and well wishes.'

Mr Swann also announced that nursing and students on unpaid clinical placements in Northern Ireland from 1 October 2020 to 31 March 2021 would receive a £2,000 payment in recognition of contribution to the COVID-19 pandemic response.

More details on the payments are expected to be released in the coming days.



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