I have received correspondence from constituents regarding a pay rise for NHS staff. I appreciate that many of you feel strongly about NHS pay and I fully agree that we need to reward those who have been so dedicated throughout this period. I regularly meet with local hospitals, doctors and NHS staff and have been in touch with our local health teams throughout this crisis. I am full of praise of the incredible staff and their hard work in supporting and caring for my constituents.
I believe that the passion, commitment, and specialist knowledge of our NHS staff is part of what makes our NHS so special. I recognise that staff morale is vital to maintaining staff commitment to services. How the NHS values and retains its staff is critical and I was encouraged when a deal was agreed in 2018 ensuring a 6.5% pay rise for over one million NHS workers on Agenda for Change contracts over three years. 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, is funding the pay rise over the remaining two years. Those on the lowest salaries in the NHS are seeing of the largest proportionate pay rises: the lowest NHS starting salary has increased year on year from £15,404 to £18,005 in 2020/2021. Many nurses and healthcare assistants are enjoying pay increases of at least 2.5%.
NHS staff are playing an integral part of the national effort to combat coronavirus - and we owe them a great deal of gratitude for all that they do. I know the Government is committed to supporting all staff now and in the future. Its unwavering support for frontline staff predates this unprecedented challenge. In addition to the 6.5% pay rise over the three years, the starting salary for newly qualified nurses has also increased by more than 12% and the Government has introduced a nurses' bursary which provides at least £5,000 of additional support to nursing students.
I know that some of you raised concerns about nurses and hospital staff and whether they were included in this pay rise. Staff on the Agenda for Change (AfC) deal are already scheduled to receive pay rises, with the starting salary for a newly qualified nurse increased by more than 12% by the end of the AfC time period, with all nurses receiving pay increases of at least 6.5% and paramedics receiving up to 11%. I hope this information reassures you that the Government's unwavering support predates this unprecedented challenge. I understand that the NHS Pay Review Body, covering AfC staff, will return to making recommendations for next year's pay awards.
I am proud the NHS has once again been rated the best healthcare system in the world, something that is only possible thanks to the dedication and hard work of all NHS staff, supported by a strong economy.
Thank you again for those who took the time to contact me about this.