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NHS contractors could miss out on pay rise

NHS building

Thousands of staff contracted by the NHS are at risk of missing out on the recently negotiated pay rise over one million health workers will begin receiving today - despite working under the same terms and conditions

This situation primarily affects staff employed by social enterprises working in primary care, mental health, charities, and other healthcare sectors.

This is because they are not yet eligible for the pay increase, which could see certain nurses' salaries rise by more than £2,750 over two years.

Eligible staff, including nurses, paramedics, 999 call handlers, midwives, security guards, and cleaners, will receive the pay rise, retroactively effective from April.

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They will also be granted a one-time "NHS backlog bonus" as a recognition of the sustained pressure faced by the NHS following the pandemic and the extraordinary efforts made by staff to reduce waiting lists.


However, social enterprise leaders argue NHS contracted staff, who work under the same terms and conditions as those on the Agenda for Change deal, have played an equally crucial role which has not been acknowledged with a pay increase.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) is not providing the necessary funding to cover the raise for these staff members.

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Peter Holbrook CBE, the chief executive of Social Enterprise UK, told Sky News: "Social enterprises are a crucial part of the NHS family, delivering over a billion pounds of services and employing many thousands of staff while reinvesting any profits in communities.

"Health Secretary Steve Barclay recently said that he would implement the NHS pay deal for all staff on Agenda for Change - but he has yet to come up with the money, putting these organisations and their staff in an impossible position.

"Social enterprises work by reinvesting any profits into the community, so the companies who employ the staff do not have money in reserve to cover the costs of the new pay deal themselves.

"We still expect the department to take urgent steps to solve this - as they did previously in 2018 - before staff, services and patients are adversely affected."

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Matthew Taylor, the chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: "While the 2023 pay uplift has been welcomed and may with help with retention issues, it must be fully funded for all staff.

"The NHS is more than just hospitals, consisting of a range of vital services patients rely on including mental health care, primary care, district nurses and therapists, all of which are contracted indirectly.

"The current arrangement for central funding might see staff at these services miss out and risks the creation of an inequitable, two-tier system for different staff.

"Providers are currently facing the unenviable choice between finding additional savings - likely through cuts to services - to fund the rise, or not implement the raise and risk staff leaving, leaving patients worse off.

"A similar oversight was made with the pay rise in 2018, but the government eventually solved this by agreeing to cover it via central budgets.

"We urge the government to review its position and agree to fund the pay award for all staff on AfC terms and conditions, including those on local authority contracts."

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The DHSC said all eligible Agenda for Change staff would receive the 23/24 consolidated pay award and clarified NHS funding for social enterprises, community interest companies, charities, and similar services would be uplifted through their usual funding routes.

However, there was no further clarification regarding social enterprise staff contracted to work for the NHS.

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