We take a UK-wide look at the latest situation with NHS pay and how you can get involved
England did not have a full pay process for 2023/24. Instead, after the CSP and other health unions took industrial action over the proposed 2022/23 award, the government made a consolidated pay rise of five percent for all Agenda for Change staff, plus additional non-consolidated payments. This deal was reached after direct negotiations with government, and accepted by CSP members last April.
At least initially, the 2024/25 pay process is returning to a more typical Pay Review Body (PRB) process. The PRB is independent from government and reviews information and evidence from health unions, the government itself, and NHS employers. It will then make recommendations to ministers. It is the government which decides whether to accept these recommendations.
Members should receive a further pay rise for 2024/25 on 1 April. However, this year government only instructed the PRB to prepare their report at the very end of December 2023, and called for the PRB to respond by May. This means members and other NHS staff will, once again, almost certainly see a delay in any increase in their salaries for next year.
Furthermore, in their remit letter, the government instructs the PRB to ‘consider the historic nature of the 2023 to 2024 awards’ – in reality, a real terms pay cut – ‘and the government’s affordability position’ when making recommendations. This strongly suggests the UK government is preparing for an austerity approach to NHS pay and is attempting to bind the PRB’s hands at the outset.
Whilst they are significant concerns, the CSP will be contributing evidence to the PRB process and has engaged workplace representatives and lay members in focus group research to prepare our case.
Any pay award that follows this process will be put to our NHS members. As in 2022/23, we will continue the pursuit of fair and timely pay awards for our members, campaigning with the other health unions.
Wales, like England, did not have a full pay process for 2023/24.
An enhanced pay offer was made following direct negotiations with the Welsh government as part of our 2022/23 pay dispute.
On 30 January (following the publication of the printed version of this article), the Welsh government committed to the PRB process for 2024/25.
Any resultant pay award would again be put to members, with CSP reserving the right to escalate to a pay dispute if the pay award is not acceptable.
Northern Ireland also normally follows the PRB process, and a remit letter has now been sent to the board asking for recommendations for 2024/25 pay there.
However, this has to be viewed in the context of Northern Ireland lacking an executive and the current pay dispute that is on-going.
In 2023/24 there was no recommendation from the PRB and with no executive, no pay offer or award was given. Additionally, there was no increased award for 2022/23, as received across the other nations.
The CSP and other health unions are pushing for a constitutional mechanism to allow for a 2023/24 pay award. With a mandate for industrial action secured across most of the health unions, work continues to ensure we maintain pressure through the current pay campaign.
- With a likely return of power-sharing in February 2024, the CSP is calling for the restored Northern Ireland Assembly to prioritise fair pay
Scotland's NHS pay is being progressed through direct negotiations between health unions and the government.
It is likely that a pay offer may be made via this process in quarter 1 of this year. The CSP’s elected leadership will consider this offer, and whether to make any recommendations, before putting it to members for consultation.
Get campaign ready
Check the current situation about NHS across the UK, check your membership details to make sure we’re ready for all consultations, and find out how you can shape our 24/25 pay campaigns.
Progressing non-pay commitments
The final 2022-24 pay awards for England, Scotland and Wales included commitments to review non-pay components of NHS terms and conditions with trade unions, employers and governments working in partnership, and with other stakeholders where appropriate.
England: a range of non-pay elements are currently being progressed, including reviews of the pay setting process, the job evaluation system, support for newly qualified registrants, and reducing violence and aggression toward staff. Work is at an early stage but it is expected that many workstreams will deliver by this summer.
Wales: the non-pay elements continue to be progressed. A new All Wales Flexible Working policy, which puts acceptance as the default position, has been agreed and issued, the flexible retirement policy will be issued this February and a new CPD strategy has been developed. Work continues on the other elements and should be delivered by the end of March.
Scotland: the commitments include reduction of the working week and ensuring protected learning time. The talks with trade unions, employers and civil servants have now concluded and the proposal papers are with the minister waiting for approval.
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