Responding to the speculation of an increased pay offer for NHS staff, Matthew Taylor chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said:
“If we are to believe the reports that the Secretary of State will concede that NHS staff should be offered a meaningful pay rise in response to their cost-of-living pressures, years of stagnated pay, and private sector competition, this is a welcome development. Clearly, NHS leaders would have preferred this signal before any of the strikes took place but it is better late than never.
“The single biggest factor that prevents the NHS from clearing the waiting lists as quickly as it would like to and from providing a greater range of services for its patients, is its workforce shortages with 133,000 vacancies across the NHS, and around 1 in 3 staff saying they were thinking of leaving.
“The current NHS budgets are based on a series of assumptions at the time of the Autumn Statement, including around future pay awards. This means that local NHS organisations, national bodies and the Government would need to look very closely at what the impact of any changes would mean for what they are able to deliver. As the Government has said previously, adding 1% of pay for the NHS’s non-medical workforce in England [on Agenda for Change] would cost around £700m extra per year.
“Health leaders continue to urge the Government and unions to be flexible and find a way of avoiding further industrial action. But while we welcome a negotiated solution, we also need clarity and honesty about the funding of additional pay awards. If the award is not nationally funded, individual NHS organisations – already pursuing very challenging efficiency targets – will have to absorb the costs potentially leading to patient services or new projects being scaled back.”