The Welsh Government has announced a 3% pay rise deal for NHS nurses in Wales, in line with the offer made in England.
Welsh health minister Eluned Morgan said the wage increase “recognises the dedication and commitment” of staff.
“Members are disappointed and upset that the Welsh Government has chosen not to show their value in this pay award”
But the Royal College of Nursing in Wales said nurses had been left “disappointed and upset” by the news, noting that the award was a “long way off” the 12.5% that the union had been campaigning for.
Ms Morgan announced on Wednesday evening that she had agreed a 3% pay rise for NHS staff on Agenda for Change contracts and had accepted the recommendations of the NHS Pay Review Body “in full”.
The pay increase would be backdated from April 2021 – when NHS nurses were initially due to see a wage rise.
When making the announcement, Ms Morgan said: “Once again, I want to thank our Welsh NHS staff for their extraordinary efforts over the course of this pandemic.
“Many staff have worked extremely long hours under enormous pressure.
“This pay rise recognises the dedication and commitment of hardworking NHS staff and the enormous contribution they have made.
“It is also a recognition of how valued they are by Welsh communities.”
She claimed that for lowest paid staff the offer would mean “we have gone above the living wage recommendation of £9.50 an hour”.
The UK Treasury had not yet provided information on additional funding to cover the cost of the recommended uplift, which is above the 1% the UK government had initially proposed, but the health minister stressed “current budgets will be prioritised to enable this the deal to be implemented”.
The offer came after the same deal was put forward by the Westminster Government for NHS nurses and colleagues in England on Wednesday evening.
Ministers in England had received a wave of backlash from nurses and those that represent them after it failed to announce a pay deal earlier in the day during a parliamentary discussion about the NHS.
Conversely, most NHS nurses in Scotland were awarded a 4% uplift earlier this year.
In recent months the RCN had been calling for a 12.5% pay increase for NHS nurses across the UK, while Unison had been campaigning for a £2,000 wage boost.
Responding to the Welsh Government’s announcement, Helen Whyley, RCN Wales director, said: “The 3% award is a long way off the 12.5% claim of the Royal College of Nursing, which would bring nurses in line with other professions and redress the fact that their wages have reduced over the last 10 years.
“It also does not recognise the commitment of nursing staff throughout the pandemic.”
She stressed that investment into the profession “must be the top priority for the Welsh Government”.
“It is our belief that there has never been a time when the need for an urgent and significant pay rise for NHS staff has been so great,” added Ms Whyley. “A belief shared by so many people across Wales.”
Ms Whyley explained that the RCN Wales board would consider the next steps and stressed that members would have their say.
She said: “With all the challenges that face NHS staff in the coming years, an urgent and significant pay rise is vital to attract more people into the profession and stem the tide of those leaving the NHS.
“Retaining and rewarding the skilled, dedicated and experienced NHS staff will have massive benefits on the health and wellbeing of Wales.
“Nursing staff continue to show absolute dedication to patient care. This pay award does not show nurses that they are valued”
“We will be consulting with our members, who are disappointed and upset that the Welsh Government has chosen not to show their value in this pay award.”
Meanwhile, Richard Jones, RCN Wales board chair, said: “This award is really disappointing. Nurses in Wales have worked through what has been the most challenging time in their careers and deserve recognition.
“Nursing staff continue to show absolute dedication to patient care. This pay award does not show nurses that they are valued.”
He flagged concerns about what impact the 3% pay offer would have on the nursing workforce and retention.
“We want to see more people joining the nursing profession,” said Mr Jones.
“This will have the opposite impact – more will leave and more will feel disillusioned. Nurses give the utmost care to their patients. Where is the care for us?”
RCN Wales confirmed that more information about the pay offer would be sent out to members shortly.
More on the NHS pay fight