Department tables fresh pay offer

Date published: 05 December 2019

The Department of Health has today met with trade unions to outline fresh pay proposals to end the current industrial dispute. The new offer involves an additional £28m.


Trade unions were asked to consider suspending industrial action to facilitate negotiations on this enhanced offer for 2019/20. Union representatives at the meeting rejected the offer. 

Permanent Secretary Richard Pengelly said: “It is a matter of great regret that unions have taken this position, indicating that industrial action will now escalate. This will impact significantly on patient care in an already very challenging period for the health service.

“We have made a sizeable new offer. In the absence of Ministers, this is the furthest I am able to go. It is therefore the final offer for this year. 

“Our proposals involve a projected 3.1% increase in the overall pay bill for Agenda for Change staff. This allows us to mirror the English NHS pay settlement for this year, as we did in 2018/19 when a 3% increase was awarded.

“This was always our intention. It had not been possible up to now within the budget we had at our disposal. 

“We were informed by Department of Finance colleagues yesterday that an additional £28m is now available for this financial year. That has led to today’s increased offer.

“I accept it does not address everything trade unions wanted. That will require a Minister and longer term budgetary certainty. Neither does it resolve the financial and other challenges which the Department is facing.”

“While we cannot make a firm offer for next year in the absence of a budget, it is my clear intention to replicate the third year of the three year Agenda for Change pay settlement in 2020/21. We did that in 2018/19 and today’s offer does the same for this year.”

The other elements of the Department’s original offer remain, including intensive engagements with trade unions on a long term costed plan on safe staffing.

Notes to editors: 

1. The pay increase for 2019/20 will be backdated to April 2019.

2. For media enquiries please contact the Department of Health Press Office on 028 9052 0575 or email For out of hours please contact the Duty Press Officer on 028 9037 8110.

3. Follow us on Twitter @healthdpt

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