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NHS pay rise in Wales will be more than 1%, says health minister

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Wales’ health minister says she expects the Welsh Government to offer a pay rise to NHS staff above the proposed 1% announced by the UK Government.

Eluned Morgan said she felt there was “an obligation” to offer a pay boost to those who had “worked their socks off” since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

In March, the UK Government recommended that NHS staff in England should receive a 1% pay increase this year – a decision which was heavily criticised by health unions.

Helen Whyley, the director of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) in Wales, described the 1% rise being advocated across the border as “pitiful and bitterly disappointing” and urged the Welsh Government to give a “firm commitment” on fair pay.

The British Medical Association (BMA) said England’s proposals were “nothing short of an insult to a profession which has gone above and beyond during the pandemic”.

An independent NHS pay review body is expected to give its recommendations to the Welsh Government later this month.

Health Minister Eluned Morgan

Speaking on Politics Wales on Sunday, Baroness Morgan said she will be looking forward to responding to the body’s non-binding recommendations.

“We were clear that we didn’t want to see a pay cap as they have suggested in England of 1%,” she said.

“I think we’ve got an obligation. We’ve seen people on the frontline who have really suffered. They have really worked their socks off over the past year, and so if we do need to step in and find some additional funding that is beyond the 1% then we’ll certainly look at that.”

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Unions such as the RCN say they have “arrived” at a pay rise of 12.5% which they feel would reflect the growing complexity of nurses’ skills and workload. However, Baroness Morgan would not be drawn on how far Wales could go above 1% but said the Welsh Government would aim to fund the difference.

She added: “Obviously it depends where the level [from the pay review body] comes in, but I would guess that we’d be going beyond 1%.”

Inflation is under 1% but the Office for Budget Responsibility forecasts that it will rise to 1.5% this year, which would make the 1% increase a real-terms cut.

The independent NHS pay review body (PRB) makes recommendations to governments in the UK after taking evidence from trade unions like the RCN, employers, and governments. But ultimately NHS pay is a political decision.

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