England is the only nation to not yet give its NHS and care staff a one-off £500 payment - but is it on the cards?
Wales is the third country in the UK to announce that their NHS and social care staff will receive a £735 one off bonus in order to recognise their efforts during the Covid-19 pandemic.
At a press briefing in Cardiff, Health Minister Vaughan Gething said that health and social care staff have made an “enormous effort” in keeping the country safe, and that the bonus reflects “our immense gratitude”.
He said: “Over the last year, Wales’s NHS staff and social care staff have shown a remarkable amount of commitment and courage from the initial outbreak of the pandemic right through to the current second wave.
“They will have suffered the impacts of the pandemic on their physical and mental health wellbeing in both their personal and professional lives. This payment expresses our gratitude to our NHS and social care workforce for their extraordinary contribution in keeping Wales safe.”
‘Vital we show our support’
The Health Minister also clarified that the payment - which will see most workers take home £500 after tax and national insurance deductions - is in no way linked to the current issue surrounding NHS pay.
He said: “I want to be clear, this is not linked to the current issue of NHS pay.
“We in the Welsh Government have submitted our evidence to the independent pay review bodies without an arbitrary cap on pay, and we await their independent advice and recommendations.”
Darren Hughes, Director of the Welsh NHS Confederation, said: “We welcome the announcement of a one off bonus payment for all NHS and social care staff in Wales, in recognition of their extraordinary contribution to the Covid-19 pandemic response over the last 12 months.
“It’s vital that we all show how much we value and support them as we reset and rebuild services.”
Bonuses in Scotland and Northern Ireland
In Scotland, health and social care staff have been given a bonus payment of £500. This was announced at the end of November last year by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
The Scottish Government said at the time that most staff will receive this payment in their February salaries
Similarly, Northern Ireland has also already announced a similar move earlier this year in February.
It was revealed that health and social care workers in Northern Ireland would be given a £500 bonus in “special recognition” of their work during the Covid-19 pandemic.
During a press conference, Northern Irish Health Minister Robin Swann said: “There are no words to properly convey what health workers have done for us, we will never be able to repay that debt.”
Where does England stand?
As it stands, health and social care workers in England are the only ones who have not yet received a promise of a Covid-19 bonus.
When asked at a Downing Street press conference in January whether would recognise the sacrifices made by staff, Prime Minister Boris Johnson declined to answer.
Instead, he said: “We do our absolute utmost to support our wonderful NHS staff and indeed have had a three year pay package for nurses, that I think was 12.8 per cent, and will continue to invest record sums in the NHS.
“I think the amount we have invested in the NHS even before the pandemic began was more than any time in modern memory, £34 billion package of investment, and that will continue under this government.”
According to The Sunday Times, a one off bonus is being considered for frontline NHS staff in a bid to ease the ongoing row over nurses pay - however, the bonus is unlikely to be rewarded before the NHS pay review body has given its final recommendation.