More than 1 million NHS staff are set to be offered an average 6 per cent pay rise over three years from next April, after ministers and trade unions agreed a deal to reform the Agenda for Change pay framework, HSJ has been told.

While the deal will see reform of increments that staff receive, it will not include any reform of out of hours enhancements for weekend and evening work, HSJ understands.

These had been a key target for ministers during the junior doctors’ contract dispute and were thought to be a focus for AfC. 

The agreement, due to be unveiled later today, will be fully funded by the Treasury at a cost of more than £4.2bn, sources told HSJ.

Staff will be offered an average pay rise of 3 per cent backdated to April this year, followed by 2 per cent in 2019 and 1 per cent in 2020.

The deal will be subject to approval in ballots of staff, however.

Plans for staff to give up a day’s annual leave have been dropped but increment pay points will be reformed with fewer pay bands, removing overlapping pay bands and creating larger, more consistent spacing of increment pay points, HSJ has been told.

The increments are also expected to be more closely linked to performance and appraisal, in an attempt by the government to end what it believes amounts to automatic pay raises. Details have yet to be released. However, past increment deals have not resulted in significant changes to pay progression.

Staff at the top of their pay bands will get the basic pay rise but the deal is thought to include significant pay rises for the lowest paid staff such as porters and healthcare assistants whose pay could rise by more than 25 per cent.

Other key elements of the deal include:

  • A national focus on reducing sickness absence
  • National agreements on flexible working conditions to aid recruitment and retention of staff
  • Extended shared parental leave rights to all Agenda for Change staff

Discussions between union leaders and NHS Employers have been ongoing since a strike in 2014 after the government unilaterally rejected the NHS Pay Review Body’s recommendations.

Broad agreement on a deal was reached last year but was on hold without more money from the Treasury.

Health and social care secretary Jeremy Hunt began publicly lobbying for more Treasury funding last year and the deal with Agenda for Change unions follows the Chancellor’s commitment to fully fund the deal at November’s budget.

The pay deal will need to be voted on by Agenda for Change staff but is expected to be recommended for acceptance by all the major trade unions.

The agreement does not apply to medical staff and talks on the consultant contract are ongoing.

Ministers and unions agree Agenda for Change pay and reform deal