RCN members who are employed by the NHS in England have received the result of the strike ballot for the NHS in England by email. If a member does not have an email address on their MyRCN record, a letter will be sent to them providing the result. As this ballot was aggregated, only one overall report is provided relating to the entirety of the England ballot. There is only one single result in respect of this ballot.
This statutory ballot took place on an aggregated basis.
This means that the threshold that we needed to meet – 50% of members voting and the majority of them voting for strike action – applied to the entire voting membership. Therefore, there is one result from this ballot for all RCN members employed by the NHS in England.
Over 120,000 of you voted. Draconian strike laws mean that over 140,000 ballot papers needed to be returned in the post and as a result we do not have the mandate to take more strike action at this time.
This was unlike the strike ballot carried out in 2022, when the same threshold applied to each NHS employer, which meant that we achieved a mandate to strike at some employers but not others.
To get the government back to negotiations, we needed to show even greater strength than we have to date. In this strike ballot we sought a country-wide mandate that would have allowed an even larger strike than RCN members have managed until now.
Our result shows that thousands of members are ready to vote in a ballot just like this, despite the stakes being much higher. The fight for fair pay and safe staffing has never been contingent on striking, and despite this result we will build on the power we’ve built in this campaign to achieve the change that each member deserves.
Nursing staff working in every setting and employer deserve fair pay. The RCN will continue to campaign for fair pay in all of settings, both in and outside the NHS. Members will hear more soon on new campaign activity and how members can take practical steps in their workplace to apply pressure and secure meaningful changes to job descriptions, roles and consequently levels of pay.
Alongside the government's pay offer, in a separate letter to the RCN, the Health Secretary committed to consider whether a separate pay spine for nursing should be established to address specific challenges faced by nursing staff. The government has confirmed its position has not changed. The RCN is clear that too many nurses are stuck at pay bands that do not reflect the responsibility and complexity of their roles. Additionally, our work through the NHS Staff Council on nursing job profiles and ongoing work on job evaluation remains a high priority.
Members working on Agenda for Change terms and conditions in the NHS in England will not be balloted again about the 2022/23 or 2023/24 pay offer. Members will always be consulted on substantial changes to their pay, terms and conditions.
The law requires a strike ballot to be conducted by post. Every effort has been made by the RCN and our independent scrutineer, Civica Election Services, to send a ballot paper to any member who was eligible to vote as of 11.59pm on 14 May. This also includes members who requested a replacement ballot paper. Once ballot papers have been posted by Civica Election Services, the RCN and they no longer have control over the ballot paper’s arrival or return. The RCN is clear that the stringent law that requires statutory ballots to be conducted by post are designed to limit our ability to achieve strike mandates.
It has also been the case that some members who reported their ballot paper did not arrive were in fact not eligible for a vote on this occasion based on their current employer; the data held on their RCN membership record about their accurate place of work; or membership status, such as being in payment ‘arrears’.
To have been eligible to vote, members must have been:
- Employed in the NHS on an Agenda for Change contract AND
- Have ensured their MyRCN record showed they are employed in the NHS before 11:59pm on 14 May 2023
- Have become an RCN member before 11:59pm on 14 May 2023
- Have been up to date with membership payments as of 11:59pm on 14 May 2023
No. The RCN’s first strike mandate, which applied at certain employers across England, expired on 1 May 2023. The ballot that has just been conducted was to provide a new mandate to strike at every employer where RCN members are employed. in England. This ballot was ‘aggregated’, meaning it would have given us a mandate to strike everywhere or nowhere in England. As the legal threshold required to take strike action was not met, the RCN cannot take lawful strike action anywhere in England.
As an RCN member, you should attend work as normal when another union is organising industrial action. We also recommend that you:
- don’t take on any work outside of your professional remit on the days of industrial action
- don’t cover the work of colleagues taking industrial action, if that work falls outside your contract or remit
- don’t take on any voluntary overtime work to cover the work of those taking industrial action.
- avoid taking any bank or agency work to cover the work of those involved in the industrial action.
For full guidelines, read our publication on industrial action by other unions.