Nurses in England pause strikes to enter ‘intensive’ government pay talks

Health Secretary, Steve Barclay, is due to meet with the Royal College of Nurses (RCN) bosses today for pay talks, after the union suspended next weeks planned walkout.

In a ray of hope, RCN bosses and the government have issued a joint statement exclaiming they will begin ‘intensive talks’ on ‘pay, terms and conditions’ and ‘reforms to enhance productivity’ within the sector in a bid to end industrial action.

white and brown concrete building during night time

However, it remains unclear what the RCN will settle for. Up until now the union has made clear it will only call off strikes if Barclay increases pay 5% above current inflation rates, which the government have previously claimed is unaffordable.

The planned strikes for next week were due to commence on 1st March and run until 3rd. Half of frontline services were set to be affected, with nurses from intensive care units, cancer care taking part.

Pat Cullen, General Secretary of the RCN, said: ‘We will put our plans on the table, they can put their plans on the table – but I’m confident that we will come out with a fair pay settlement for our nursing staff.’

Ms Cullen added the union will make sure to leave no stone unturned and a fair pay deal was reached as quickly as possible to avoid further strike disruptions.

However, other health unions have made it clear that the government could not reach a settlement with only the RCN. They are demanding the health secretary meet with all the others, amid fears Barclay is trying to isolate the RCN.

Barclay is believed to regard nurses as a special case, despite the governments drive to keep public sector pay awards low to regain control of inflation. However, the national-wide Agenda for Change Agreement, which states all frontline staff expect doctors and nurses should receive the pay increases, should mean that any offer to the RCN is made to all other unions.

Sara Gorton, Head of Health at Unison, said: ‘Pay talks with all health unions representing striking NHS workers must happen now.

‘Meeting with one union alone will do nothing to solve the dispute. Ministers need to start behaving like grownups and up their game substantially.’

Additionally, NHS strikes in Scotland and Wales have also come to a halt. The Scottish government have offered NHS staff – including nurses – a new pay offer for the coming year which includes a one-off payment and an average salary rise of 6.5% from April.

In Wales, nurses are currently being balloted over a new pay deal from the Welsh government and the RCN has put some planned walkouts for February on hold.

Photo by Tetiana SHYSHKINA


Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Help us break the news – share your information, opinion or analysis
Back to top