My Rt. Hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health has made the following written statement:
We know pay restraint has been challenging for staff but it has helped the NHS to recruit an additional 32,300 professionally qualified clinical staff since 2010.
Increasing pressures on the NHS due to, amongst other things, an ageing population and changing public expectations continue to create increased demand and activity and this means that there have been shortages of some groups. We have been working hard to tackle this.
Since 2010 there are 10,100 more nurses on our wards. There are currently over 52,000 nurses in training. In addition, since September 2014 more than 2,400 nurses have completed the Return to Practice Scheme.
This year there were nearly two applicants for every available nurse training place. On 4 December UCAS published their end-of-cycle data which shows 22,575 applicants with confirmed places to study pre-registration nursing and midwifery in England from August 2017. These figures show there still is strong demand for nursing and midwifery courses. There were more 18 to 20 year olds from England accepted to nursing courses than ever before from August 2017.
We have already confirmed that the across-the-board 1% public sector pay policy will no longer apply to pay awards for 2018-19. This is due to a recognition that in some parts of the public sector flexibility to go above the one per cent may be required to ensure continued delivery of world class public services.
At the budget we announced that, in order to protect frontline services in the NHS, we are committing to fund pay awards as part of a pay deal for NHS staff on the Agenda for Change contract, including nurses, midwives and paramedics.
We will make final decisions on funding at the appropriate time after listening to the Pay Review Bodies who will, as is usual practice, consider written and oral evidence from a range of stakeholders, not just from the government. They will look at issues such as recruitment, retention and affordability, and will then come back with a recommendation. We expect their reports in May next year.
Public sector pay packages will continue to recognise workers’ vital contributions, while also being affordable and fair to taxpayers as a whole.