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Fair Pay for Nursing timeline

This is how we have been campaigning with our members to secure an early and significant pay rise for nursing staff.

August 2020

RCN launches Fair Pay for Nursing campaign

September 2020

We hosted regular Q&As with members about our campaign.

October 2020

Dame Donna Kinnair delivers a powerful message to government in her first major speech to RCN members since COVID-19 pandemic declared, responded to the Government’s announcement of the Spending Review in November and launched our email your MP action for members to email their MPs ahead of the Spending Review. Every MP across the UK received an email about the campaign

November 2020

We signed a joint letter with other health unions to demand an early pay rise to value staff and took the campaign to Westminster and asked MPs if they Clapped us? Back us. New polling shows public support for a pay rise for nursing staff remains high during the pandemic. The Spending review is missed opportunity to give NHS nursing staff early and significant pay rise as RCN opposes pay freeze for other public sector workers. We hosted our first virtual rally for the campaign, and we launch our petition to the Prime Minister to demand an early and significant pay rise for nursing.

December 2020

We responded to the Scotland Government announcement of a COVID-19 bonus and a government remit letter to the NHS pay review body.

January 2021

We urge the prime minister to speed up NHS pay rise as poll shows public in favoursubmitted evidence to the NHS pay review body (PRB) outlining our pay claim and reiterating our demand for a fully funded 12.5% pay increase for nursing staff, and held our second virtual event for the campaign.

February 2021

Valuing You Week - A week of online webinars providing RCN members with practical support.

March 2021

We respond to the government’s PRB evidence outlining a headline 1% pay award in England, the COVID bonus in Wales and Senedd debate on NHS pay. Dame Donna Kinnair addresses RCN members at our Joint Representative conference. RCN members give evidence to the NHS pay body review as analysis confirms nurses' real-terms pay cut. Members in Scotland consider pay offer for NHS Scotland Agenda for Change staff.

April 2021

We respond to and open consultative ballot on NHS pay offer for RCN members in Scotland.

May 2021

RCN members in Scotland reject the Scottish government pay offer and express their disappointmentNew polling shows public support remains strong for a proper wage rise for NHS staff in England. RCN calls for members to update their details to receive campaign updates. 

June 2021

RCN members in Scotland notified the Scottish government and NHS Scotland employers that they are in a trade union dispute over pay. It followed the Scottish government’s decision to implement a single-year NHS pay deal for 2021-22 for Agenda for Change staff without further discussing RCN members’ rejection of the deal.

June 2021

We made a public appeal to the new Health Secretary his immediate priority must be tackling the shortage of nursing staff by paying them fairly for their highly skilled work.

We also joined other health unions in writing to Sajid Javid to stress the importance of pay in ensuring the NHS is prepared to deal with its many post-pandemic challenges.

July 2021

We entered formal negotiations with Marie Curie on behalf of our members after they voted to reject their pay offer. We condemned the delay in the NHS pay award announcement and, once the pay awards for NHS staff in England and Wales was announced, responded that it was a bitter blow to nursing staff and committed to consulting our members on what response they want to take. We launched our Summer of Action to protest the below inflation NHS pay award and urged members to get involved. 

August 2021

We launch our app to help members campaign for fair pay for nursing and launch the NHS pay consultation for RCN members working for the NHS in England and Wales to say whether a 3% pay award is acceptable or not. 

September 2021

Eligible RCN members in England and Wales voted in our consultative ballot on the 3% pay award for NHS Agenda for Change staff.  The vast majority of RCN members who voted say 3% is unacceptable.

October 2021

We announced indicative ballots in England and Scotland to see what further action members are willing to take.

RCN Wales enters into a trade dispute with the Welsh government over the 3% pay award.

We announced that the indicative ballot in England for those who work in the NHS will open on Thursday 4 November.

November 2021

Nursing staff handed in the Fair Pay for Nursing petition directly to 10 Downing Street as we launched the indicative ballot on industrial action in England in Wales to gauge members’ opinions on next steps in the fight for fair pay.

December 2021

The results of the RCN’s indicative ballots of members working on Agenda for Change contracts in England and Wales are announced. Members in England and Scotland were updated on the next steps in the campaign.

January 2022

On 13 January we launched a consultation on pay for members in Northern Ireland working under Agenda for Change terms and conditions. The ballot is asking members working in Health and Social Care (HSC) if the 3% pay award for 2021-22 announced last year is acceptable or unacceptable.

February 2022

In February members working for the HSC in Northern Ireland had their say to inform our next steps on pay.  RCN members in Northern Ireland voted in our consultative ballot on the 3% pay award for HSC staff on Agenda for Change terms and conditions, with 92.2% of those who voted saying they think the pay award is unacceptable, and 7.8% saying they think it is acceptable. 

March 2022

On 7 March we launched our Last Shift survey, to help us make the case for urgent investment in the nursing workforce, and we set our pay position for 2022-23 at 5% above inflation. On 22 March, the RCN gave oral evidence to the NHS Pay Review Body (PRB), which is advising governments on Agenda for Change pay, terms and conditions for staff in England, Northern Ireland and Wales. Our team made the case for a pay rise of 5% above inflation, which they insisted is needed to urgently address the staffing crisis.  

Carol Popplestone said: “Our case is clear – our safety critical profession is facing unprecedented staffing challenges, rapidly rising living costs, unfair banding, and years of underpayment. The facts speak for themselves - there is an undeniable and urgent need to significantly improve nursing pay.”

April 2022

The new health and social care levy took effect on 6 April, which saw national insurance contributions rise from 12% to 13.25%. This is a tax increase to pay for the same health and care services many RCN members work in. RCN Director for England Patricia Marquis said: “Today’s national insurance rise is part of a concerning financial outlook set to leave an experienced nurse £935 per year worse off in real terms even after the UK government’s proposed 3% NHS pay award.

May 2022

As the cost of living crisis developed the government announced that every household is to get an energy bill discount of £400 this autumn, with the poorest households also receiving a payment of £650. The move is part of a package of new measures to tackle rapidly increasing energy prices. 

But the RCN warned this didn't go far enough and demanded a fair pay rise for health care workers who’ve suffered a decade of real-terms pay cuts.

June 2022

In June at the former prime minister Gordon Brown backed our call for safe staffing and said we need to end the use of food banks by ending low pay. He spoke at RCN Congress, the UK's largest event, which took place in Glasgow on June 5-9, after the  World Health Organization Ambassador for Global Health Financing spoke about health trusts that have set up food banks within hospitals to provide food parcels for nursing staff and other health workers

July 2022

RCN polling showed rising public support in England for nursing staff taking industrial action over pay. In May 42% of respondents supported nursing staff taking industrial action, a figure which had risen to 49% by July. The polling came as the NHS England pay award was 3 months late, and also showed 86% of people in England support a pay rise for nursing with 62% of those favouring an increase of 5% or more. 

July 2022

On 12 July ballots opened for eligible RCN members working in the NHS in Scotland to have their say on the Scottish government pay offer for 2022-23. Under the offer the majority of NHS staff would receive a 5% pay rise, well below RPI inflation. RCN Scotland recommended members reject the offer.

In a statement Julie Lamberth, Chair of RCN Scotland Board, said: “The pay offer is well below our expectations and what we need to reward us properly for the role we play, a role that is crucial in delivering safe and effective care. It is time for us to tell the Scottish government enough is enough. The pressures on nursing staff have long been unsustainable and patient care is put at risk due to low staffing levels."

July 2022

The UK government announced NHS staff will get a pay increase of at least £1,400 for 2022-23. This offer amounts to a real terms pay cut with RPI inflation standing at 11.7%. In response, in an emergency session, RCN Council voted to ballot members on Agenda for Change contracts in England on industrial action. 

RCN General Secretary & Chief Executive Pat Cullen said: “This is a grave misstep by ministers. With this low award, the government is misjudging the mood of nursing staff and the public too. There are tens of thousands of unfilled nursing jobs and today ministers have taken the NHS even further from safe patient care.  Living costs are rising and yet they have enforced another real-terms pay cut on nursing staff. It will push more nurses and nursing support workers out of the profession."

July 2022

A YouGov survey of 1,700 adults in Great Britain showed a clear majority support the nursing profession taking strike action. 60% of respondents were in favour of nurses going on strike, with 71% saying they would "sympathise" with a strike by nurses. 

RCN General Secretary & Chief Executive, Pat Cullen, said: "Would-be prime ministers need to look at this and plan for an urgent change of course. We will be balloting our members working for the NHS in England over pay and public support is already growing. They know that nursing staff are patients’ greatest advocates, and this support runs both ways. They are joining us in saying enough is enough."

Fair Pay For Nursing

Find out more about the campaign and how you can get involved.