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Hospital optometrists to receive pay boost

After a longstanding wage cap, 1.3 million NHS staff are set to receive a minimum pay rise of 6.5% over the next three years

Money in a wallet

Hospital optometrists are among 1.3 million NHS staff who will benefit following a lifting of the public sector seven-year wage cap.

As part of a framework agreement between unions and the Government in March, almost all NHS employees will receive a minimum pay rise of 6.5% over the next three years.

The resultant three year pay offer is now undergoing a period of staff consultation that will last until the end of May.

Subject to the acceptance of terms in the £4.2 billion deal the wage boost will be backdated to 1 April 2018.

These changes will see the starting salaries of pre-registration hospital optometrists and newly qualified hospital optometrists increase by around 25% over the course of three years.

Specialist optometrists will have their starting salary increased by 29% over three years, along with potential to progress to top of scale in five rather than eight years, as under the current system.

Principal and consultant optometrists working within the NHS will also receive boosts to their pay over the proposed three-year agreement of between 5.40% and 22.36%.   

Details of individual pay journeys can be explored online.

AOP hospital optometrists committee secretary, Andrew Tompkin, told OT that the changes involve simplifying the pay structure by removing the overlap between pay bands.

There will be fewer increments, each with larger pay increases, but progression will be more tightly linked to performance and appraisal.

“This proposed pay rise is particularly welcome after over seven years of unsustainable pay constraint,” he emphasised.

Mr Tompkin outlined how staff had become frustrated by the longstanding cap on pay rises.

“Long-serving staff who have reached the top of their pay scale have received tiny increases in recent years,” Mr Tompkin shared.

The pay proposal also includes a one-off bonus of 1.1% of annual salary, payable in April 2019, for those who are at the top of their pay scale at 31 March 2019. There is no proposal to reduce annual leave, which was a contested point during negotiations.

Mr Tompkin observed that improved rates of pay for optometrists working within the NHS would aid recruitment and facilitate the advancement of the profession engaging in the widest possible range of roles.

“Improved pay rates are likely to make hospital optometry posts even more attractive to those who wish to develop and use their full range of professional skills,” Mr Tompkin highlighted.

Although Mr Tompkin welcomes the changes, he said he would like to see the specific allocation of training funding to help hospital optometrists in their continued professional development.

Mr Tompkin is available to discuss any issues relating to the changes with AOP members. He can be contacted by email at [email protected].

Image credit: Bank of England