NHS pay deal 2018 – 2021 (England)

Alan Lofthouse, National Officer, Health Group

By Alan Lofthouse National Ambulance Officer, UNISON

What does the NHS Pay Deal mean for ambulance staff in England? UNISON, the largest union representing ambulance staff believes it is a good deal. Here’s why. We know it’s a complicated deal and not straightforward to explain, but we wanted to show why it is good for ambulance staff. We’re not saying it makes up for the years of below inflation pay rises, but it is better than what staff would have expected to get through the NHS Pay Review body and it is the best that could be negotiated in the current climate.

Importantly the NHS Pay Deal is funded by the Treasury meaning ambulance services don’t have to find the cash through cuts to services or other terms and conditions. It also means that money will be available to the devolved nations – Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland – to agree their own pay deals.
Over the next three years ambulance staff will bene t from shorter pay bands with the lowest pay points being removed over the three years. This will mean improved starting salaries with staff reaching the top of the band faster. It has also been agreed that the top of the band is rate of the job – a small but significant victory for NHS staff.

The deal also delivers a new minimum basic pay rate of £17,460 meaning the NHS is a Real Living Wage employer from 1 April 2018. The deal will also see band 1 closed from December 2018 and all current band 1 roles will be re-profiled to band 2 roles.
For those on the top of their current bands there will be a 6.5% cumulative pay increase in bands 2 – 8c. This is made up of 3% from 1 April 2018/19, 1.7% from 1 April 2019/20 and 1.67% from 1 April 2020/21, plus a non- consolidated 1.1% cash lump sum for those in the top pay points in bands 2 – 8c in April 2019.

On 1 April each year, those not at the top of the bands will get a mixture of annual pay uplifts and/or restructuring. Those who haven’t benefitted from the restructuring will get their increment on their normal incremental date. Each individual will have a different journey and bene t at different times. The best place to see how this works is at the following website: www.nhsemployers.org/paytool
We have received the most enquiries from people looking at only one year, or the first part of a year. Members need to remember this is a three-year pay deal and the best increases happen at different times for each person.

As part of the deal ambulance staff on local capped banding deals will now progress and reach the top of their band. This affects ambulance technicians and ambulance control staff in some trusts.
The deal itself contains a no-detriment clause to ensure no-one will be worse off during the three years of the deal. Importantly, everyone will receive at least the increases those at the top of the bands will get over three years, and some will gain significantly due to the restructuring.

For most paramedics in England, who are on pay point 24, having been moved from band 5 to band 6 through agreements we reached in 2016, the benefits can be seen up to 1 April 2021. Their current salary is £29,626. In year 1(2018/19) this will increase to £31,121, in year 2 (2019/20) this will increase to £32,525, and in year 3 (2020/21) this will increase to £33,779.

This means a total earnings gain over this period of £4,153 (years 1 – 3), which represents a percentage earnings increase of 14.02% (pay and incremental progression). On 31 March 2021, paramedics will be on a pay point that is deleted meaning they move immediately to £37,890 (plus whatever percentage award is given this year). This is a total earnings gain over the period of £8,264, which represents a percentage earnings increase of 27.89%.

We have secured protections to ensure ambulance staff get to choose whether they want to move to Section 2. New starters and anyone who gets a promotion from 1 September 2018 will move to Section 2. We are still negotiating as many assurances and protections as we can to make this process fair and transparent, meaning you will get to make an informed choice. Some people will be better off on Section 2; some will be better staying on Annex 5/E. We think you should be able to make this decision.
A lot has been written about the NHS pay deal with many speculating that staff have been misled. This is not true. The GMB have decided that they have not got the support for a national industrial action ballot. We don’t see how fighting the pay deal will bene t NHS staff, when NHS staff voted overwhelmingly to accept the pay deal.

UNISON, along with all other health unions, believe that now is the time to implement the pay deal and ensure employers and the government stick to their promises whilst continuing to push for the best protections we can.

Now is the time to join a union with a proven track record of negotiating and delivering for its members. Join UNISON, THE Ambulance Staff Union.

Since publication, Colm Porter is now the National Ambulance Officer for UNISON and can be contacted at: [email protected]

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