Health unions have reached a new deal with the Government, with further strikes involving nurses, ambulance workers and other NHS staff paused as a result.

The breakthrough follows days of talks with the Government over the long-running dispute over pay.

This has led to a series of walkouts by nurses, ambulance crews, paramedics, hospital porters and other health workers in recent months – here’s everything you need to know.

What are the terms of the NHS offer?

Unison said the pay offer to NHS workers in England includes an additional one-off lump sum of 6 per cent for 2022-23 that rises in value up the pay bands, and a 5 percent pay rise on all pay points for 2023-24.

The one-off sum is worth £1,655 for staff at the bottom of band two (for example porters, cleaners and healthcare assistants), £2,009 for staff at the top of band five (nurses, midwives, physiotherapists), £2,162 at the top of band six (paramedics, health visitors, senior occupational therapists) and £3,789 for staff at the top of band nine.

This 6 per cent payment for this financial year consists of the 4 per cent already on the table, plus a one-off payment of 2 per cent the government has called an “NHS Backlog Bonus” worth at least £1,250 per person.

The 2023-24 offer is a significant increase from the 3.5 per cent on the table at the start of the strike action.

It does not include junior doctors, who staged a 72-hour strike this week and are yet to join talks over their own pay dispute.

File photo dated 23/01/23 of ambulances parked outside London Ambulance Service NHS Trust control room in Waterloo, London. Thousands of ambulance workers will stage a fresh strike on Monday in the long running dispute over pay and staffing. Issue date: Monday February 20, 2023. PA Photo. The GMB said more than 11,000 of its ambulance workers will walk out in England and Wales, including paramedics, emergency care assistants and call handlers.See PA story INDUSTRY StrikesAmbulance. Photo credit should read: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire
Ambulance workers were due to stage a strike on Monday 20 March (Photo: PA)

Ministers said they could guarantee there will be no impact on frontline services as the result of the pay offer.

There will be further discussions between DHSC and the Treasury over how it will be funded – the agreement is set to cost the Government £2.5bn.

The Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said that the deal is “affordable for the taxpayer and continues to deliver on my promise to halve inflation”.

Health Secretary Steve Barclay added that “balance was required on both sides” to reach an agreement.

He said: “Obviously the starting position from a number of the unions was much higher and so both sides have worked together to reach a settlement which is both affordable to the wider taxpayer and then balances the very real pressures we recognise that NHS workers have been on.”

What does the offer mean for NHS strikes?

As a result of the new deal, strikes involving nurses and other NHS workers – which have disrupted services in recent months – have been paused.

Ambulance members of Unison and Unite were due to strike on Monday 20 March and physiotherapists were going to walk out on Wednesday 22 March, but the action has been called off.

Union members will now vote on whether to accept the deal, with Unite refusing to recommend the offer to their members – although it added that would honour the outcome of the ballot.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “The offer from government is not one that Unite can recommend to our members, but ultimately it is important that our members make the final decision.

“Unite will support members in whichever decision they now make. As Unite members are being consulted strike action will be paused.”

However, while Unison’s head of health Sara Gorton said “it’s a shame it took so long to get here”, she added that the union would recommend that its members accept the deal.

She said: “If accepted, the offer would boost pay significantly this year and mean a wage increase next year that’s more than the Government had budgeted for.

“This is better than having to wait many more months for the NHS pay review body to make its recommendation.

“Unison will now be putting this offer to the hundreds of thousands of health members in the union in the next few weeks, recommending acceptance.

“In the coming days, health workers will have the chance to look at the full detail of what’s on offer and decide whether that’s enough to end the dispute. While that process takes place any planned industrial action will be paused.”

Rachel Harrison, GMB national secretary, said the Government has gone from refusing to talk about pay this year to putting an extra £2.5 billion on the table, and that union members “should rightly be proud of themselves”.

She said: “If the offer is accepted then it would meet a key GMB demand of a huge pay uplift for the lowest paid to keep them well above the Real Living Wage.”

Ms Harrison added: “This offer is far from perfect, and of course our NHS workers deserve more. GMB’s national committee is recommending that the offer be accepted – but the final decision belongs to our members.”

TUC general secretary Paul Nowak said: “As unions consult their members over the proposed NHS pay offer, it’s important to recognise the stand taken by each and every union member who took and voted for strike action over the last few weeks and months.”

Additional reporting from Press Association

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