UK government and healthcare unions agree final pay offer

Healthcare unions representing nurses and ambulance workers in England agreed a final pay offer with the British government on Thursday, potentially bringing an end to some strikes affecting the state-run National Health Service.

“The Government and the NHS Staff Council – which brings together NHS employers and unions representing the Agenda for Change workforce – have completed negotiations and reached a final offer,” a joint statement released by the government and the staff council said.

“Both sides believe it represents a fair and reasonable settlement.”

The offer still needs to be put to a vote among union members working for the health service. One union, GMB, said it would be recommending its members to accept the offer.

The offer includes additional pay for 2022/23 and a pay settlement for 2023/24, the joint statement said.

A union representing around 50,000 junior doctors, who walked out for 72 hours earlier this week, said their dispute would not be covered in the deal.

Still, it is a significant breakthrough coming a day after half a million Britons went on strikes to coincide with the government’s budget. Last month, tens of thousands of nurses and ambulance service staff staged the biggest ever strike in the NHS’s 75-year history.

Previously the government said it could not meet workers’ demands for bigger pay rises to help cope with inflation’s surge above 10 percent. Ministers had said doing so would be unaffordable and could drive inflation higher.

The NHS, which has been free at the point of use since 1948 and a source of pride for many Britons, has been particularly impacted by strikes as it was already grappling with a staffing crunch and struggling to recover from pandemic-induced strain.

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