I have been contacted by a number of constituents about NHS pay and nurses.
I believe strongly that the passion, commitment, and specialist knowledge our nurses and other NHS staff provide is what makes our NHS so special.
Following recommendations from the independent pay review bodies, the NHS Pay Review Body and the Doctors' and Dentists' Review Body, the Government accepted a 1 per cent pay rise for doctors, dentists and all NHS staff on Agenda for Change contracts for 2016 to 2017.
Delivering a safer 7-day NHS for patients is a government priority. An important part of this is that the NHS has to ensure it has the right staff, in the right place, at the right time to provide high quality services across the week. The NHS already has 32,000 extra clinical staff, including more than 10,000 additional doctors and more than 10,600 additional nurses on its wards since May 2010.
To help support NHS staff in their duty of care, the Government has committed to increase NHS spending in England by £10 billion in real terms by 2020, of which £6 billion will be delivered by the end of 2016/17. By cutting bureaucracy and championing higher standards, Ministers have ensured this money goes on frontline care not administration. I am proud the NHS has 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.
Overall earnings for nurses and other non-medical staff have increased year-on-year since 2010/11, in total by 4.0% or 0.8% a year. Average basic pay per full time equivalent has increased by more than the impact of annual pay awards.
Average earnings for qualified nurses were £31,214 in the 12 months to June 2016, a slight increase from the same time last year and above the £31,189 figure for the NHS as a whole, which remains well above the national average salary for 2015 of £27,500 a year. A typical qualified nurse (Band 5) can expect seven years of pay progression averaging around 3.8% a year, in addition to annual pay awards.
We know pay is not the only reason nurses and other health workers choose a career in the NHS. The reward package also includes a valued pension scheme and other non-pay benefits. Members of the pension scheme can generally expect to receive around £3 to £6 in pension benefits value for every £1 they contribute, while flexible working patterns help staff better manage their personal commitments.
My family and I have always found the care at Musgrove Park Hospital to be exceptional, and I have always campaigned on its behalf. For example, I recently met with the Chancellor to ask for additional funding for the operating theatres.
Thank you again to all those who contacted me about this issue.