Some senior nurses and midwives will be eligible for extra pay awards of up to £1,195 a year under a new scheme unveiled recently by health minister Alan Milburn.
Health trusts have been given discretion to award up to three merit points a year each worth £375 to £400, the equivalent of a 5% pay increase, to staff who fulfil at least one of six criteria.
Milburn announced the move, saying: “ The days of an NHS glass ceiling for nurses are coming to an end. All over the country there are staff pioneering new ways of working and making an outstanding contribution to patient care.
“Many of these staff are stuck at the top of their pay grade. This new deal now offers them the recognition they deserve.”
But the move was met with scepticism by some.
The Royal College of Nursing’s director of labour relations, Stephen Griffin, said: “ It’s good that senior nurses are being rewarded but this doesn’t address the main problem of the nurse shortage crisis.
“These discretionary points will not apply to the majority of nurses.”
And the Liberal Democrats were cynical about the announcement, saying they suspected that it had been carefully timed to ensure nurses did not make trouble about pay at the Labour party conference.