02/03/2007

Union anger at health sector pay rises

Unions have reacted angrily to the government's announcement that pay for nurses and other healthcare professions has been pegged below inflation.

Nurses and other health care professionals will get 2.5%, 1.5% in April and 1% in November.

General dental practitioners will get 2% but there is nothing on offer for general medical practitioners.

Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt said the Government was accepting the 2007 pay review body recommendations for NHS staff and GPs.

Hospital doctors will get a flat rate of £1,000 per annum for hospital doctors and £650 per annum for hospital doctors and dentists in training - giving an average of 2% across all groups.

Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt said: "These are sensible increases, fair for staff, consistent with the Government's inflation target and affordable for the NHS.

"We are therefore accepting the recommendations of the NHS pay review bodies, but have decided to stage the increase in line with the consistent approach across Government to the workforce covered by the pay review bodies.

"We appreciate that nurses will be disappointed by the staging of their award. However, overall earnings growth in the NHS will be around 4.5% in 2007/08 as a result of this pay award, the Government's pay reforms and opportunities for career progression. For nurses in particular, I expect the average earnings of nurses to rise by 4.9% next year, above the national average.

"It is also expected that inflation across the year will be much lower than it is now.

"We will be working with the NHS, employers and unions to implement these pay increases while continuing to improve services and job security."

The minimum starting pay for a basic grade, newly-qualified nurse will be over £19,600 from 1 November; typical pay for a doctor in their first post will be £32,087 from 1 November. A consultant on the minimum pay scale will get £71,822 from 1 April 2007.

Patricia Hewitt added: "GP profits are estimated to have increased by more than 50% since the introduction of the new GMS contract. This has come with significant improvements in the quality and range of services for patients, but I welcome that the review body has recognised that GPs are well-rewarded for the work they do."

Commenting on the announcement on the findings of the Independent Pay Review Body, TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: "The Government's determination to hold pay in the public sector below the increase in the cost of living will cause real difficulties.

"Cutting real pay runs the risk of starting the same spiral of boom and bust in public sector pay that hindered previous governments. If pay is feeding into inflation, the Chancellor should look to city bonuses and top boardrooms for the culprits."

However, the armed service have come out best with the lowest paid getting a 9.2% pay rise and other ranks getting a minimum of 3.3%.

(SP/JM)

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