NHS staff win Covid bonus after legal action threat 

A one-time incentive has been sanctioned by the government for health workers who were previously ineligible due to their employment with non-NHS organisations.

A minimum payment of £1,655 was agreed upon as part of the NHS pay agreement in England this year, in recognition of the staffing strain caused by the Covid pandemic. However, thousands of outsourced employees did not qualify, and employers have initiated legal action, according to sources.

At this time, their employers are eligible to submit funding applications in order to finance the payments.

Up to 20,000 employees, including physiotherapists and community nurses, are estimated to be eligible, but one health union has warned that there are additional employees on distinct contracts who do not qualify.

As they did not work directly for the NHS, healthcare personnel employed by certain charities, local governments, and social enterprises that provide services for the health service were informed they would not receive the one-time payment of between £1,655 and £3,789 instead. 

10,000 of these workers are represented by the industry organisation Social Enterprise UK, which deemed the ruling "unjust" and threatened legal action against the government. However, the government has recently declared that it has "stepped in" to assist private healthcare organisations in providing the incentive.

Health Minister Will Quince stated that this will ensure diligent healthcare personnel and the organisations for which they work are not financially disadvantaged as a result of the NHS pay agreement.

It will also ensure that they receive their backlog bonus for their efforts during the pandemic.

Finally, he stated that additional financing would be allocated at this time in light of the challenging economic climate.

Peter Holbrook, the chief executive officer of Social Enterprise UK, expressed his satisfaction with the government's recognition of the indispensable function social enterprises play within the NHS family.

Social Enterprise UK had previously informed sources that it had initiated the application process for a judicial review of the arrangement, deeming it completely unjust. 

The funding of the incentive will be contingent solely on non-NHS organisations. Certain "bank" employees, who fill rota vacancies temporarily for hospital trusts through lobbying, will not receive the payment that was sought to include them in the scheme.

The announcement was applauded by Patricia Marquis of the Royal College of Nursing, who added that more work remained.

"Unfortunately, some nursing personnel providing NHS care will not comprehend this... Clarity must be provided by the department regarding the recipients of the funding.

She stated that the entire state-funded salary increase for general practise nursing personnel should be implemented.

Sharon Graham, general secretary of Unite, further stated that this is essentially a bandage from a government that has so severely cut funding from the NHS that it is now dependent on life support.

Rather than financing a lump sum payment for all NHS employees as is the correct course of action, the organisation has established a multi-tier workforce.

The lump-sum award was declared earlier this year in conjunction with a 5% salary increase for over one million NHS employees in England, which was also included in the agreement. Distinctive compensation agreements were reached for personnel employed by the NHS in Scotland and Wales.