Why HCAs must have their say

What's the pay vote got to do with me?

Right now there's a lot of talk about nursing pay. It's an issue you can't afford to ignore so it's crucial you get involved in the conversation.

RCN members working for the NHS in England are voting on whether or not to accept a proposed pay deal which, if accepted, will see them get a pay rise. 

We're only consulting members who are immediately affected by the proposal. However, fair pay and a decent standard of living are important whether or not you can vote and the RCN works with all members in campaigning for fair pay whoever you're employed by.

So this deal matters because it sets a standard for future negotiations. Josie Irwin, the RCN’s lead negotiator, explains: “A pay increase for NHS staff and particularly the uplift for low paid staff to above the Living Wage will set a benchmark for negotiations on pay with independent sector employers.”

But that’s not all. RCN Chief Executive Janet Davies has urged Health and Social Care Secretary Jeremy Hunt to consider how to address the pay of all nurses and health care assistants providing NHS services, whoever they're employed by. This is to try to ensure that more workers aren’t drawn away from primary, community and social care services if the deal is accepted.

The RCN is also calling for a new and separate national staff council to be established to negotiate for all nurses and care assistants in health and social care who are not directly employed by an NHS organisation.

Why vote?

With negotiations now concluded, the RCN is recommending that members accept the deal, along with most NHS staff side unions. But it’s members who will make the final decision.

Karen Pike represents HCAs on the RCN’s Trade Union Committee, which has endorsed the offer. She says: “As a committee we’re recommending that members accept the deal. This is the best pay deal in eight years from a Government that’s still committed to austerity and the RCN considers it to be the most we can expect at this time.”

But she believes the most important issue now is to ensure that if you work in the NHS in England, you make your views known in the consultation.

“I want to make sure that HCA members’ voices are heard,” she says. “The decision is yours and as your representative on the committee, I think the most important thing is for you to have your say. Please make sure you use your vote.”

Members working for the NHS in England on bands two to four will get a pay rise of at least 6.5% over three years. In fact most will get significantly more.

  • A band 2 member on the lowest increment currently earns £15,404. By year three, they will be earning £19,337 – an extra £3,933 (25.53%).
  • A band 3 member on the lowest increment currently earns £16,968. By year three, they will be earning £21,142 – an extra £4,174 (24.60% rise).
  • A band 4 member currently on the lowest increment earns £19,409. By the end of the deal they’ll be earning £24,157 – an extra £4,748 (24.46% rise).
  • The smallest increases go to members on the top of their bands. For example, for staff on band 3, their pay will rise from £19,852 to £21,142 over three years and for those on band 4 pay will rise from £22,683 to £24,157.

This means that even the lowest paid HCAs employed in the NHS in England will earn more than the real Living Wage. This has been calculated by the Living Wage Foundation and has been adopted as a benchmark by the RCN.

All the information about the different levels of pay awards for each individual band is available on the NHS pay calculator.

A cross-section fo views

It’s really important that that the RCN hears from members working in all kinds of roles in the NHS in this vote. “If you are working in the NHS in England, your vote is vital and may have far-reaching implications,” says Brian Murphy, Health Practitioner Member on RCN Council. 

“Even if you’ve never voted on anything like this before, please vote on this. Members of the RCN’s Trade Union Committee can only make an informed decision if you tell them what you think.”

Further information