UNIONS have suspended further strikes by ambulance and other NHS staff and will recommend acceptance of a new pay offer to NHS workers.
The breakthrough follows days of talks with the Government over the long-running dispute over pay which has led to a series of walkouts by nurses, ambulance crews, paramedics, hospital porters and other health workers in recent months.
Ambulance members of Unison and Unite were due to strike next Monday and physiotherapists were going to walkout later this month but the action has been called off.
Unison said the offer to NHS workers in England includes an additional one-off lump sum for 2022-23 that rises in value up the NHS pay bands.
“If accepted, the offer would boost pay significantly this year and mean a wage increase next year that’s more than the Government had budgeted for” – Sara Gorton, Unison
This is worth £1,655 for staff at the bottom of band two (for example porters, cleaners and healthcare assistants), £2,009 for staff at the top of band five (nurses, midwives, physiotherapists), £2,162 at the top of band six (paramedics, health visitors, senior occupational therapists) and £3,789 for staff at the top of band nine.
There will be a permanent 5% pay rise on all pay points for 2023-24.
Ministers said they could guarantee there will be no impact on frontline services as the result of the pay offer.
There will be further discussions between DHSC and the Treasury over how it will be funded, Politicalite understands.
Union members will now vote on whether to accept the deal.
Unison’s head of health Sara Gorton said: “It’s a shame it took so long to get here. Health workers had to take many days of strike action, and thousands more had to threaten to join them, to get their unions into the room and proper talks underway.
But following days of intensive talks between the Government, unions and employers, there’s now an offer on the table for NHS staff.
“If accepted, the offer would boost pay significantly this year and mean a wage increase next year that’s more than the Government had budgeted for.
“This is better than having to wait many more months for the NHS pay review body to make its recommendation.
“Unison will now be putting this offer to the hundreds of thousands of health members in the union in the next few weeks, recommending acceptance.
“In the coming days, health workers will have the chance to look at the full detail of what’s on offer and decide whether that’s enough to end the dispute. While that process takes place any planned industrial action will be paused.”
Rachel Harrison, GMB national secretary, said the Government has gone from refusing to talk about pay this year to putting an extra £2.5 billion on the table.
She said: “GMB members should rightly be proud of themselves. It’s been a tough road but they have faced down the Department of Health and won an offer that we feel is the best that can be achieved at this stage through negotiation.
“If the offer is accepted then it would meet a key GMB demand of a huge pay uplift for the lowest paid to keep them well above the Real Living Wage.
“Progress has also been made on non-pay demands, such as addressing violence in the workplace.
“This offer is far from perfect, and of course our NHS workers deserve more. GMB’s national committee is recommending that the offer be accepted – but the final decision belongs to our members.
“Strike action will be paused until the outcome of the ballot.”
Health Secretary Steve Barclay said “balance was required on both sides” to reach an agreement.
Asked why the Government had not offered something regarding this year’s pay at an earlier point in negotiations, he said: “We have listened to the concerns of the trade unions, we’ve had meaningful discussions with them. Both sides have engaged constructively.
“Obviously the starting position from a number of the unions was much higher and so both sides have worked together to reach a settlement which is both affordable to the wider taxpayer and then balances the very real pressures we recognise that NHS workers have been on.
“So balance was required on both sides, that is what the talks explored.”
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the deal is “affordable for the taxpayer and continues to deliver on my promise to halve inflation”.