The government’s 3% pay increase for NHS staff in England “falls way short” of expectations, the Guild of Healthcare Pharmacists (GHP) has said.
In a statement published on 21 July 2021, the Department of Health and Social Care announced the pay rise, which will be backdated to April 2021, saying it was “committed to providing NHS staff with a pay uplift in recognition of the unique impact of the pandemic on the NHS”.
The increase comes after recommendations from the independent NHS Pay Review Body and the Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration were accepted.
Health secretary Sajid Javid said that NHS staff “are rightly receiving a pay rise this year despite the wider public sector pay pause, in recognition of their extraordinary efforts”.
Javid added: “We will back the NHS as we focus our efforts on getting through this pandemic and tackling the backlog of other health problems that has built up.”
The government had initially, in March 2021, proposed a pay rise of 1%: an offer that the GHP, the representative body for hospital pharmacists, described at the time as “particularly callous”, adding that it would “continue to make the case strongly” that NHS staff should be given an immediate pay rise of £3,000 per year, or 15%, whichever is the greater.
Commenting on the government’s latest announcement, a spokesperson for the GHP told The Pharmaceutical Journal that the Guild is “extremely disappointed that the government’s offer falls way short of our expectations”.
“The past year and a half has been one of the most challenging for healthcare staff across the UK, and our members have worked tirelessly to protect the nation’s loved ones throughout the pandemic.
“This 3% offer falls below the current rate of inflation and when you include the drop in pay of 15% over the last 11 years, it does little for our members and the profession.
“We will now be consulting regionally and nationally with our membership on our next moves,” they said.
Thorrun Govind, chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s English Pharmacy Board, said that pharmacy teams “have been on the frontline throughout the pandemic and must be fairly rewarded for the work they do”.
“We wrote to the Chancellor in July 2020, after pharmacists were initially omitted from the pay rise announced for public sector workers,” she said. “We urged him to take action and extend the rise to pharmacists.
“Given their key role to support the nation during COVID-19, the government must ensure pharmacy teams are recognised and valued.”
Eluned Morgan, health minister for Wales, also announced a 3% pay rise for Welsh NHS staff on 21 July 2021, saying that she wanted to “thank our Welsh NHS staff for their extraordinary efforts over the course of this pandemic“.
“Many staff have worked extremely long hours under enormous pressure. This pay rise recognises the dedication and commitment of hardworking NHS staff, and the enormous contribution they have made. It is also a recognition of how valued they are by Welsh communities.”
Paul Moloney, national officer for the Pharmacists’ Defence Association Union, said it was “unfortunate that it has taken so long for the government to announce this increase, which was due in April ”.
“Although the award will be backdated, it is understandable that people will compare it to todays’ inflation figures of around 3.9% and not the figure back in March  of 0.7%, which is the appropriate benchmark.
“Had the 3% increase to Agenda for Change pay rates been paid on time, it could fairly have been described as an increase significantly above inflation, which has been the long-term objective of all health service unions, including ourselves.“
NHS staff in Scotland received a pay rise of 4% in May 2021, which was backdated to 1 December 2020.