May I begin by paying tribute to every single person working in the NHS during this incredibly difficult period. We owe them an enormous debt of gratitude for their hard work, dedication and professionalism. They have also selflessly cared for those individuals and families who have suffered the tragic loss of a loved one.
Annual pay awards for NHS staff are determined by an independent and transparent pay review body process. Pay has already been set up to 2020-21, as part of a deal that was reached in 2018. That deal was negotiated and agreed upon with the NHS trade unions, and represented one of the largest public sector pay increases in several years.
A further 6.5 per cent pay rise over three years, and the starting salary for newly qualified nurses increasing by more than 12 per cent, comes alongside the Government restoring the nurses' bursary, providing at least £5,000 of additional support to nursing students. Ministers set aside £800 million to support the deal for 2018/19, and the Government’s long term funding settlement for the NHS, which will provide increased funding of £33.9 billion per year by 2023/24, will fund the pay rise over the remaining two years.
Those on the lowest salaries in the NHS will see some of the largest proportionate pay rises: the lowest NHS starting salary will increase year on year from £15,404 to £18,005 in 2020/2021. Many nurses and healthcare assistants will enjoy pay increases of at least 25 per cent.
Further, I fully support the Government's announcement of a pay rise of 2.8 per cent, backdated to April 2020, in line with the recommendations of the independent pay review body for dentists and doctors. This pay rise is an important acknowledgement of the commitment and hard work of staff throughout this difficult time.
The pay review bodies will make pay recommendations for future years at the appropriate time, but I know the Government wants to ensure that the NHS continues to attract, retain and reward staff for their hard work.
I do agree that NHS workers should be rewarded for their enormous contribution in our fight against Coronavirus, and this is a point that I raised in Parliament with the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care here.
I recently wrote to the Prime Minister with a constituent’s recommendation that key workers and front-line staff be rewarded with additional paid holiday. Chloe Smith MP, Minister of State in the Cabinet Office, has informed me that the Government is carefully considering how to remember, reward and recognise those involved at the frontline of our response and that this suggestion will be contributed.