The 1% cap on NHS staff wages is to be ‘scrapped’ as of next year, Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, has announced.
The lifted pay cap follows campaigns by 14 health unions representing a wide range of NHS staff including nurses, midwives, pharmacists and paramedics who say pay has dropped by 15% over the last 7 years.
Mr Hunt described the pay cap – introduced 7 years ago – as unsustainable, and publicized plans to award 1.4 million of England’s NHS staff with better pay as of next year. However, the exact increase in budget expenditure for health staff wages has not been disclosed.
Responding to the announcement, Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Chief Executive, Janet Davies, said: ‘Jeremy Hunt has put beyond all doubt that the pay cap is scrapped after a summer-long campaign by the RCN. Our members in every corner of the UK fought hard and can be proud of this achievement.’
She added that ‘ministers cannot ask the NHS to make other cuts to pay for it – services must be given extra funding to cover the cost’.
Chief Executive of NHS England, Simon Stevens, similarly raised concerns about the source of funding for increased staff wages. He explained that NHS staff deserved pay rises, but that the government would have to take this from its own budget.Elaborating on the financial situation of the NHS, Mr Hunt said: ‘The budget position for funding currently pencilled in for the NHS for the next year and the year after looks extremely challenging and, if not amended, I think it is going to be very hard for the NHS to do all that has been asked for it over the course of the next year and the year beyond.’