Health Minister Simon Hamilton MLA has today set out the 2015/16 pay award for Health and Social care staff.
The Minister said: “Despite the extremely constrained financial position we have been able to identify the resources to match last year’s settlement and that announced for the Northern Ireland Civil Service for 2015-16.
“Northern Ireland’s Agenda for Change staff at the top of their pay bands will receive a 1% non-consolidated payment, at an average of almost £300 each (up to maximum of £985). Those not at the top of their pay bands will receive an average AfC spine point rise of 3.7% equating to £1,588 (up to a maximum of £4,509). Salaried doctors and dentists at the top of their pay bands will also receive the 1% payment. Unlike England, no Agenda for Change staff in Northern Ireland will have to lose out on pay.
“I would have preferred an agreed settlement but when I met recently with trade union representatives they unfortunately remained unwilling to move beyond seeking to reopen last year’s settlement despite it having being paid into people’s accounts many months ago and with their union colleagues across the water having moved ahead and focussed on 2015-16. My officials sought to engage with local union leaders on a 2015-16 settlement since 4th January last year. More than a year later I am not prepared to keep our staff waiting any longer.
“The pay demands made by the trade unions would cost my Department’s budget close to £40 million and are simply unaffordable in current circumstances. The pressures facing Northern Ireland’s health service have been well publicised, and £40 million would equate to the full extra resource being directed towards tackling waiting lists. Meeting the Unions’ pay demands in full would be the equivalent of 5,800 knee replacements, 5,700 hip replacements or indeed the employment of an additional 1,000 nurses.”
Mr Hamilton added: “I have made it clear that my priority is the delivery of high quality safe and effective services for patients and clients. I want to put patients first.
“I value the hard work and commitment of all Health and Social Care staff and wish to reward staff as far as possible within the current financial constraints. The Finance Minister has been clear on the need for continued pay restraint as evidenced by the recent decision on the 2015/16 pay award for staff across the Northern Ireland Civil Service, and resources devoted to staff costs will always have to be balanced alongside other elements of the overall spend, particularly that directly for patient treatments.
“I am pleased however that we can continue to invest significantly in our staff. More than half of every pound my Department spends goes to health and care staff. We have managed for example to increase average basic pay of nurses and midwives (before any additional payments such as overtime or unsocial hours for working nights, weekends etc) to in excess of £30,000, a rise of 32% in the last decade.
“Since March 2011 we have increased the total size of the HSC workforce by 3,109 WTE (or 6%) including the nursing and midwifery workforce (up 1076 WTE or 8%) and the allied health professional workforce including physios and occupational therapists (up 491 WTE or 17%).”
The Minister concluded: “In the constrained financial circumstances that my Department and the Executive as a whole finds itself and the choices I face balancing resources on pay and on patients, I believe a pay award which gives staff at least a 1% increase represents a fair deal for Health and Social Care workers.”
Notes to editors:
1. The 2015-16 increases for all spine points through incremental progression are:
|AfC spine point||2015/16 pay values||% change between points|
2. 1% non-consolidated payments are as follows:
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