Great Britain

Welsh government has not tried to set ‘ceiling’ on NHS staff pay rise, minister says

The Welsh government has not attempted to set a “ceiling” on any NHS staff pay rise, its health minister has said.

It comes after the UK government recommended a one per cent pay rise for NHS workers in England in a move which has been met by fierce backlash and the threat of industrial action.

Vaughan Gething, the Welsh health minister, said on Friday he understood why staff were “hurt and upset” by the 1 per cent pay rise put forward by the UK government.

He said ministers in Wales were waiting to see the outcome of the NHS Pay Review Body, which advises on the pay of NHS staff, and the government had put evidence to the body.

"We certainly have not done what the UK government has done and tried to set an artificial ceiling on the pay rise that should be provided," he told reporters. "We think that our staff do deserve a pay rise."

Mr Gething said the Welsh government wanted to ensure that the UK government was in a position to "properly fund" such a pay rise.

The BMA Cymru Wales - part of the British Medical Association (BMA) union for doctors - said it had met with Mr Gething to discuss the issue on Friday.

Dr David Bailey, chair of the Welsh council, said the union “could not have been clearer” the recommended one per cent increase for doctors was “nothing short of an insult to a profession which has gone above and beyond during the pandemic”. 

Mr Gething told reporters on Friday: "I understand why so many staff across our NHS will be feeling hurt and upset and a little angry at the evidence that the Department forHealth and Social Care at the UK level have provided.”

He added: "As I say, when our evidence is published, you’ll see we have not taken that approach."

The UK government has continued to defend its controversial proposed pay rise for NHS workers despite growing anger.

Matt Hancock, the UK health secretary, said NHS staff had been "carved out" of a pay freeze affecting other public sector employees.

He told a news conference on Friday evening the government had to take affordability into account when considering pay.

"We have set out what is affordable given the very significant challenges in public finances,” he said.

Meanwhile, Labour’s Sir Keir Starmer said on Friday the proposed one per cent increase was “nothing short of an insult” after national clapping for carers and “all we’ve been through together”.

Also on Friday, health minister Nadine Dorries told Sky News the one per cent offer is “the most” the government thinks it can afford.

Additional reporting by Press Association

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