The lowest paid nurses aren’t getting a 9% pay increase

19 December 2022
What was claimed

Nurses on the lowest salaries have been given a 9.3% pay increase.

Our verdict

While the £1,400 pay increase awarded to NHS staff in England is worth 9.3% for the lowest paid NHS staff, for the lowest paid nurses specifically it’s worth around 5.5%.

“We also need to give a pay rise to nurses on the lowest pay, which is why we gave them, I think 9.3%, £1,400 across the board”.

During an interview on the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg yesterday, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Oliver Dowden said several times that the lowest paid nurses had received a pay increase of 9%.

This isn’t correct. The £1,400 pay increase awarded to NHS staff in England is worth 9.3% for the NHS staff in the lowest pay bands, such as porters and cleaners—but for the lowest paid nurses, it’s worth around 5.5%.

After we first published this fact check, the Cabinet Office confirmed to Full Fact that Mr Dowden was referring to the recent pay award for NHS staff. 

It told us that some 55,000 staff employed in pay band 2 would have received a 9% pay rise due to this award, and that this included “NHS Healthcare Assistants who work alongside nurses and other professionals to provide care”. NHS Healthcare Assistants do often work closely with nurses but are not qualified nurses themselves, and are not registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council as nurses are.

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What pay rise did nurses get?

In July 2022, the government accepted the recommendation of the NHS pay review board to implement a “£1,400 consolidated uplift” backdated to April 2022 for NHS staff under Agenda for Change contracts (that is, most NHS staff excluding doctors and dentists and very senior managers).

As health is devolved, the UK Government sets pay for NHS staff in England only. 

Some NHS staff employed at the top of pay band 6 and in band 7 were given an additional increase “equal to a 4% uplift”.

According to a press release issued by the government announcing the decision, the £1,400 pay award represents a 9.3% increase for NHS staff in the lowest pay bands.

However, the lowest paid nurses do not fall into this category. Newly qualified nurses begin in band 5, and saw their basic pay increase from £25,655 to £27,055 per year following the recent pay award.

This additional £1,400 represents a pay increase of approximately 5.5%—a point made in the same press release.

We contacted the Department for Health and Social Care which pointed us to a factsheet which states: “Newly qualified nurses have had a 5.5% increase and those on the lowest salaries, such as porters and cleaners, are seeing a pay rise of up to 9.3%.”

Mr Dowden would therefore have been correct if he’d been talking about the lowest paid NHS workers as a whole, but he was incorrect to say that the 9.3% rise applied to the lowest paid nurses specifically.

It is possible that some of the lowest paid NHS workers who received a 9.3% pay rise may be taking part in some of the current strikes, though we’ve not been able to establish this for certain.

We’ve contacted Mr Dowden for comment and will update this piece if he responds.

Image courtesy of Cabinet Office

Update 21 December 2022

We’ve updated this fact check to include a response from the Cabinet Office which was provided after it was first published.

We deserve better than bad information.

After we published this fact check, we contacted Oliver Dowden to request a correction regarding this claim.

Mr Dowden did not respond.

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