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Health Minister announces pay rise for NHS Wales staff, but Conservatives unimpressed

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THE HEALTH MINISTER Eluned Morgan has accepted the recommendations of NHS pay review bodies and is today announcing a pay rise for NHS staff in Wales.

The recommendation of the NHS Pay Review Body (NHSPRB), for all NHS staff on Agenda for Change terms and conditions – including nurses, cleaners, porters, healthcare support workers and healthcare professionals, is for a £1,400 pay rise on most pay grades.

But the Welsh Conservatives are not impressed.

Speaking on Friday, Welsh Conservative Shadow Finance Minister Peter Fox MS told this newspaper: “It’s taken the Labour Government till the end of the week to make up their minds on what to do – keeping our NHS workers in limbo, whilst Labour pick political fights with the UK Government.

“Whilst I welcome that NHS pay is being increased in line with the recommendations from the independent panel, the Labour Government has been guaranteed an additional £2.5 billion a year in their budgets.

“It’s a shame that the Welsh Government are choosing the wrong priorities such as wasting money on buying up farms, more politicians or stifling the Welsh economy with their road building freeze, instead of supporting our Welsh NHS.”

But the Health Minister said the Welsh Government will implement this recommendation on top of the Real Living Wage top-up previously announced, which came into effect in April.

For the lowest paid staff (bands 1 to 4), which make up nearly half of the Agenda for Change workforce, this will on average equate to a 7.5% pay rise on pay grades.

The starting salary for the lowest paid roles in band 1 and the bottom of band 2 in NHS Wales will now be £20,758, this equates to a pay rise of 10.8% this financial year for this band and would make Wales the highest paying UK nation for the lowest pay bands in the NHS.

For staff at the top of band 6 and in band 7, the £1,400 payment will be enhanced to be equivalent to a 4% pay rise.

Following a series of meetings with trade unions and representative bodies this week, the Welsh Government has committed to continue to explore a range of other issues raised as part of those discussions.

The Health Minister has also agreed the recommendations of the Doctors’ and Dentists’ Review Body (DDRB) to increase pay by 4.5% for junior doctors, consultants, GPs and dentists employed directly by the health boards.

Health Minister Eluned Morgan told The Herald: “We are committed to working in social partnership and will continue to use our social partnership structures and bring together trade unions, employers and government to deliver the best possible outcomes for our NHS staff. I want to thank trade unions and representative bodies for taking the time to meet me this week and for the constructive discussions we have had.

“Our NHS staff have worked incredibly hard throughout the pandemic to keep us all safe and they continue to provide an incredible service in the face of intense pressures.

“I hope this pay award goes some way to recognise their hard work but without additional funding from the UK Government, there are inevitably limits to how far we can go in Wales. We continue to press them to pass on the full funding necessary for fair pay rises for public sector workers.

“We are all facing a cost-of-living crisis. We have structured this pay award so the lowest paid staff in the NHS would see the biggest uplift in their pay, equivalent to a 10.8% pay rise, making the NHS in Wales the highest-paying UK nation for staff in the lowest pay bands.”

Despite not being within the DDRB’s remit, specialty and specialist doctors on the 2021 contract will receive a one-off £1,400 payment in recognition of the unprecedented cost-of-living crisis. Specialty doctors on the 2008 contract will receive a 4.5% pay increase, but those on the top pay grade in the 2008 contract will receive a one-off payment equivalent to 4.5%.

The recommended 4.5% pay uplift in pay for contracted GPs and dentists is subject to overall contract changes by the General Medical and General Dental Services and negotiations are ongoing.

The Health Minister has made clear that staff working within general practice, dental teams and community pharmacies across Wales should receive a fair, proportionate and equitable pay uplift.

Health

Health board: COVID-19 vaccinations will be by appointment only from end of this month

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THE LOCAL health board has announced that from August 31, access to Mass Vaccination Centres (MVCs) in Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire for COVID-19 vaccinations will be by appointment only in preparation for the start of the winter vaccine programme.

Anyone wishing to drop-in for their first or second dose during August is advised to check opening times on the day before travelling by visiting hduhb.nhs.wales/healthcare/covid-19-information/covid-19-vaccination-programme/mass-vaccination-centres or calling 0300 303 8322 as these are subject to change. If you still require a booster, please wait to be offered an appointment.

From 31 August 2022 onwards, please book an appointment by calling 0300 303 8322 or by emailing COVIDEnquiries.hdd@wales.nhs.uk

Bethan Lewis, Interim Assistant Director of Public Health at Hywel Dda University Health Board (UHB), said: “Throughout the vaccination programme we’ve aimed to make the vaccine easily accessible through a combination of drop-ins and appointments. This change will allow us to deliver the COVID-19 in partnership with primary care and minimise the risk of duplication or vaccine waste.

“If you are eligible for an autumn COVID-19 booster, please wait to be invited by either your GP or the health board. Everyone eligible will be offered an appointment by November.

“GP practices are also preparing to invite eligible patients for their seasonal flu vaccine and aim to offer an appointment to everyone eligible by December. Again, please do not contact your GP practice at this time, you will be invited when it is your turn.”

Scheduled drop-in sessions for children and young people who are home-educated or not in education to access childhood vaccinations routinely offered through school nursing teams will continue as advertised at selected MVCs.

The remaining drop-in sessions for children aged 5 to 17 years of age will be held between 12pm and 6pm in the following locations:

Aberystwyth MVC (Thomas Parry Library, Llanbadarn Campus, SY23 3AS) – Tuesday 30 August
Carmarthen MVC (Y Gamfa Wen, University of Wales Trinity Saint David, SA31 3EP) – Friday 2 September
Cwm Cou MVC (Ysgol Trewen, SA38 9PE) – Monday 22 August
Haverfordwest MVC (Pembrokeshire Archives, SA61 2PE) – Wednesday 31 August
Llanelli MVC (Dafen Industrial Estate, SA14 8QW) – Tuesday 23 August
These drop-in sessions are also open to any Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire or Ceredigion school attendees who may have missed their vaccinations.

If you are unable to attend one of these sessions and have any queries or wish for your child to receive their scheduled vaccines, please complete the form available here hduhb.nhs.wales/healthcare/services-and-teams/immunisation-and-vaccination/childhood-and-young-people-vaccinations/vaccine-access-for-home-schooled-children or call 0300 303 8322 to be contacted by a member of the health board’s immunisation nursing team.

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Possible super-hospital plans released as Pembrokeshire site ruled out

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HYWEL Dda Health Board have reduced the number of potential sites for the new “super-hospital” in West Wales from five to three. 

The new site has been narrowed down to two possible locations in Whitland or one in St Clears.

According to the plans provided in Hywel Dda’s technical appraisal reports, all sites will include a main building divided into planned and urgent care, as well as a separate facility for mental health services. Parking, administrative facilities, and a helipad are also planned.

Site 12 in Whitland
Travel time analysis for population to site 12

The potential Narberth site is no longer being considered, meaning that the new hospital would be built outside of Pembrokeshire.

Hywel Dda presented the findings of a “transport infrastructure analysis,” stating that both sites had bus services that are “infrequent” and “short,” making shift work difficult.

Plan for ‘site C’ in Whitland
Travel time analysis for population to ‘site C’

For Whitland, it noted that there was an approximate 750m walking distance from the train station to the hospital site, with recommended walking distance of 400m, and that local roads do ‘not appear’ to suffer from significant congestion during a typical weekday. 

In St Clears, the report highlighted the impact a planned new railway station – expected to open in 2024 – could have on the town, saying it would be a ‘major boost’ to the area providing viable alternative car travel, with it being understood there is a commitment to increase the frequency of services at some stations along the west Wales line from two hourly to hourly.

Plans for ‘site 17’ in St Clears
Travel time analysis for population ‘site 17’ in St Clears

After it was announced that Narberth would not be the site of the new hospital, Hywel Dda University Health Board Chair, Maria Battle, assured the residents of Pembrokeshire that their concerns would be taken into account.

“Our programme business case to the Welsh Government is seeking the greatest investment west Wales will have ever seen,” said Ms Battle.

Ambulance times to Whitland, Bronglais Hospital and Morriston Hospital (Welsh Ambulance Service travel time analysis June 2022)
Ambulance times to St Clears, Bronglais Hospital and Morriston Hospital (Welsh Ambulance Service travel time analysis June 2022)

“We have listened to and continue to listen to the fears and voices of the public we serve and our staff who understand the frontline challenges of trying to deliver services across so many sites and spread so thinly.

“Recognising the fragility of our services and the risk this poses every day, we do not intend to make changes at Glangwili or Withybush hospitals before a new hospital is built. And afterwards, they will continue to provide valuable health services to our communities.”

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Fourty-five nurses recruited from overseas to fill urgent vacancies at local hospitals

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HYWEL DDA Health Board says it has recruited 45 international nurses and plans to increase this number significantly over the coming months.

International nurses have been part of the NHS since its inception in 1948 and continue to play a vital role. Hywel Dda UHB aims at recruiting 100 international nurses this year through the centrally delivered programme with NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership, local health boards and the Welsh Government.

The newly recruited nurses are part of a wider project to enhance and expand the health board’s nursing workforce which will help deliver the best possible care to patients.

The first cohort of 11 nurses arrived in May. The nurses have taken their objective structured clinical examination (OSCE) and are based in Glangwili and Prince Philip hospitals

The second cohort of nurses arrived in June. The group of 19 nurses have also taken their OSCE and are based across Glangwili, Prince Philip and Bronglais hospitals.

The third cohort of nurses arrived in July and are currently undergoing OSCE training in preparation for their examination. The 15 nurses are spread across Glangwili, Prince Philip, Withybush and Bronglais hospitals.

Judith Avan from Nigeria, who works at Bronglais Hospital said: “Living in Wales has been lovely, people are so welcoming, and the weather has been so lovely. I look forward to developing in my career and specialise in respiratory therapy.”

Nabitha Kabeer from India, who works in Glangwili Hospital said: “I’m excited about working with NHS Wales. I look forward to enjoying the beauty of Wales and developing in my career. I want to specialise in Infection control or operating theatre nursing or forensic nursing.”

Oyebola Opemipo Tikolo from Nigeria, who works in Glangwili Hospital said: “It has been a nice experience on and off the ward, the people are friendly and helpful. I am looking forward to developing in my career by taking more courses, I also look forward to bringing my family over and settling down here. I intend to specialise in midwifery as I have experience in midwifery from my country.”

The UHBs approach to attracting and retaining its employees is to be a value-based organisation.

Director of Workforce and OD Lisa Gostling said: “We continuously work together to be the best we can be as we strive to develop and deliver excellent services, putting people at the heart of everything we do. We want to attract a diverse workforce and are delighted to welcome the newly recruited nurses to the Hywel Dda family.”

If you wish to be kept informed about jobs in Hywel Dda UHB, please follow SwyddiHywelDdaJobs on Facebook or Twitter.

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