Paramedics will receive a pay rise worth at least £4,400 from the Department of Health and NHS Employers following concerns expressed by unions.
It has been opined that these critical workers within the healthcare system are being insufficiently remunerated.
Over 12,000 health workers in the NHS will see starting salaries increased from £21,909 to £26,302.
Most paramedics will also move up the pay scales for the profession as part of the deal.
Nonetheless, union leaders remain sceptical about the way that paramedics are treated within the healthcare system, and assert that many may still choose to leave the ambulance service.
Although Christina McAnea, the Unison union’s head of health, backed the new pay deal, she added that “the banding issue alone may not solve the drain of paramedics from the ambulance service, but it will certainly make it a little easier for trusts to hold on to experienced staff.”
Indeed, Unison characterises the current situation among paramedics as a steady draining of talent and experience.
Britain already faces a critical shortage of paramedics, with one trust forced to recruit agency staff in order to fill holes in schedules.
Meanwhile, another trust has sought permission to recruit from Australia and New Zealand.
Paramedics frequently report huge pressure and demands on them during their daily work.
12-hour shifts and no meal breaks are common conditions within this highly pressurised profession.
At the end of 2015, a survey of 3,200 paramedics, commissioned by the GMB, Unison and Unite unions, found that three-quarters indicated that they were planning to quit the NHS.
The Department of Health has described the pay rise as part of several years of negotiation between government officials and unions, with the express intention of retaining as many ambulance staff as possible.
Over 2000 paramedics have been recruited since the beginning of the decade, while training contracts have been increased by 60%.
But many will be sceptical that this is sufficient to replace those leaving the industry.
Despite this, Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, outlined the new pay deal.
“In recognition of their increased responsibilities, we have agreed to look at rebanding around 12,000 paramedics where their job description matches the requirements of the new band six profile, moving them up the pay scale and making sure we are able to better recruit and retain paramedics in the future to ensure patients will continue to get the very best care.”
While Sharon Holder, national officer of the GMB general trade union, spoke positively about the improved conditions for paramedics in the NHS system.
“GMB has campaigned for many years to ensure all ambulance staff receive fair pay. This agreement is a step in the right direction. The GMB is pleased the Department of Health has finally realised paramedics need to be paid properly.”