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Letter to the UK Health Secretary on the RCN's next steps following NHS Staff Council's decision to accept the England pay offer

02 May 2023

Rt Hon Steve Barclay MP
Secretary of State
Department for Health and Social Care
39 Victoria Street
London SW1H 0EU

Dear Secretary of State,

At today’s formal meeting of the NHS Staff Council, the representative of the Royal College of Nursing used our votes to reject the government’s pay offer of 16 March 2023.

This is in line with how the majority of RCN members voted in the consultation which closed in mid-April.

Despite today’s meeting and the outcome that reflects the votes across all unions, the RCN remains in formal dispute with the government and the NHS over pay levels.

I entirely respect those, in our membership and that of other unions, who voted to accept. However, that was not the prevailing view of nursing staff. Nursing is the largest part of the NHS workforce and they require an offer that matches their true value.

We understand the government’s intention now to pay the award to the NHS workforce as a whole. Though the pay offer was not enough for our members, I have repeatedly said that the government’s approach should be to build upon it and that remains our position.

Later this month, we will ballot 280,000 members in England’s NHS over further strike action to be held between June and December 2023. We will hold an aggregated ballot under the relevant legislation which, if supported by a sufficient number of RCN members, would provide the legal mandate to take strike action across the full NHS. Until this point, our strike action has been in approximately 50 per cent of NHS trusts and other NHS employers.

I will notify you of the precise ballot dates once we have confirmed the voting period with the independent scrutineer required by law.

Two weeks ago, I accepted your invitation of a meeting to discuss a way forward and I would still wish to meet. It is my view that negotiations and a resulting additional offer that values nursing staff can prevent further action and bring this dispute to a close.

Yours sincerely,

Pat Cullen 

Page last updated - 02/05/2023