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Written Statement - NHS Wales Pay Awards and Contracts

Mark Drakeford, Minister for Health and Social Services

In March, I published my initial response to recommendations by the NHS Pay Review Body and the Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ (DDRB) remuneration for 2014-15.  

The statement made it clear that financial pressures remained a significant issue for NHS Wales and that any pay uplift would be unfunded. However, it also made clear my intention to consider how an award – equivalent to the cost of implementing the Department of Health’s proposals in England – could be best distributed to staff working in Wales.

I had hoped NHS Employers, trade unions, professional bodies and staff associations could hold discussions to agree recommendations in respect of an award to NHS staff, salaried doctors and dentists. NHS Employers were asked to provide a further invitation to BMA Wales to discuss the distribution of an award to consultants, together with the conclusion of outstanding proposals on the consultant contract. Unfortunately, staff side representatives have been unable to enter into formal discussions.

In their absence, the distribution of the pay award for 2014-15 for staff covered by Agenda for Change arrangements, excluding very senior managers, will seek to achieve two main aims.

Firstly, it will provide something for everyone: a flat cash payment of £160. Secondly, it will tackle the issue of low pay by implementing the living wage in the NHS in Wales.

These decisions demonstrate our commitment to taking a different approach in Wales, even in very challenging times.

These awards will be in addition to the continuation of incremental progression for staff entitled to receive an increment. I have also decided to rectify an anomaly between pay points 15 and 16, which will ensure incremental progression will provide a minimum uplift of 1%.

There will be no pay award for very senior managers for 2014-15.

For the majority of medical staff, I have decided the award should be aligned with those made in England for 2014-15. Incremental progression for staff who are entitled to receive an increment will be continued.

Speciality and associate specialist (SAS) doctors and doctors-in-training at the top of their scale will receive a 1% non-consolidated award. Consultants at the top of their commitment award scale will also receive a 1% non-consolidated payment.

The Department of Health’s announcement of March outlined a two-year deal, covering 2014-15 and 2015-16. There have been no discussions in Wales between employers and staff side representatives about the second year. I have therefore asked NHS Employers to hold urgent discussions with members of the Partnership Forum in Wales and BMA Wales regarding an approach for 2015-16 within the quantum equivalent to the award in England. I look forward to receiving recommendations in September 2014.

I understand the preference for a consolidated award in 2014-15 but, in the current challenging financial climate, this is not affordable. However, there is an opportunity for NHS Employers and staff side representatives to discuss consolidation for 2015-16.

My overriding priority continues to be to maintain jobs at the frontline of NHS Wales and to drive improvements in the quality of care for patients.

My written statement in March confirmed we would implement the DDRB’s recommendations regarding the GP contract in Wales and we would increase the value of dental contracts by 1.47%. For salaried GPs who are employed by health boards and NHS trusts, NHS Employers will seek discussions with BMA Wales to determine an appropriate award for 2014-15, in the context of the awards I have announced today.

In respect of the outstanding proposals for the Welsh consultant contract, it is a matter of real regret that BMA Wales has not felt able to enter into discussions with NHS Employers.

My preference would be to retain the Welsh contract. However, in the absence of a negotiated solution, I have concluded there is no prospect of effectively maintaining a separate Welsh consultant contract. The new England and Northern Ireland consultant contract negotiations offer an opportunity for parity across most of the UK – as we currently have for doctors–in-training and SAS doctors. I have therefore asked my officials to ensure Wales formally joins the England and Northern Ireland negotiations on the consultant contract.

I hope BMA Wales will accept an invitation to join NHS Wales in entering negotiations with other countries at the UK level. By working in partnership Wales will have a strong voice and influence and we can ensure the needs and circumstances of doctors working in Wales are properly reflected in the new consultant contract when it emerges.      

Clearly these negotiations will take time to conclude and implement. In the meantime the need to find savings from the pay bill remains unavoidable. I have asked NHS Employers to consider further how we might adjust the mileage rates available to consultants to align them to HMRC rates and the harmonisation of pay scales for new doctors-in-training in Wales with those in England. I anticipate these changes will be implemented in September 2014.

I have also agreed that Wales will participate in the Clinical Excellence Awards for 2014-15 and I have asked my officials to undertake a review of the scheme in advance of 2015-16.

The pay awards for 2014-15 are subject to a commitment from trade unions and professional bodies to early implementation of the Agenda for Change terms and conditions changes negotiated and supported by a majority of staff earlier this year. I hope these can be implemented in September 2014.