The Health Secretary could backdate next year’s NHS staff salary rise in an attempt to avoid more strike action.

Steve Barclay held a meeting with health unions to propose advances in efficiency and productivity of healthcare could “unlock additional funding.”

He indicated it could lead to a higher offer for the 2023/24 salary settlement in the spring.

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Head of Health at the Unison union Sara Gorton said Mr. Barclay acknowledged that preventing strikes over next year’s salary deal would “involve a reach-back” into the current pay year.

It raises the risk that the salary agreement for 2023/24, which was due to be approved in time for April, may be backdated and applied to the fourth quarter of the fiscal year 2022/23.

Ms. Gorton described the discussion as a “tone change” from the UK Government, with salary negotiations firmly on the table.

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It comes after months of ministers refusing to go beyond what the independent pay review committees had suggested.

Despite the optimism, unions claimed that no “tangible offer” was made, with Ms. Gorton demanding “cold hard cash” to be provided so members can be consulted over ending industrial action.

Multiple reports have indicated unions pushed for the 2023/24 pay agreement to be backdated to January in order to secure a higher raise for 2022/23.

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The Daily Telegraph said the Health Secretary had “agreed to consider both this idea and proposals for a one-off payment”.

The Government has previously declined to discuss salaries for nurses and other public-sector workers, saying that they were topics for independent pay review bodies.

While some unions were hopeful about the negotiations, others were annoyed by the lack of apparent progress.

Source: Evening Standard

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