But what does this mean in practice?
The next step for the RCN is to submit its evidence on nursing pay to the independent Pay Review Body (PRB) and the deadline for this is 18 December 2017. It will be well into the spring of next year before we know what recommendation the NHS PRB has made and then the Government will make an offer – not necessarily what the PRB recommends. If this takes us past April any award will have to be backdated.
Is there a sting in the tail?
Jeremy Hunt also noted that he wanted to see ‘more flexible negotiations’ but there is no clarity about what this means. Our RCN negotiators are exploring this and will work alongside other trade unions to achieve a UK wide deal on pay, which does not reduce the overall pay package. This is particularly important for parts of the South West where the local economy and wages are below average (despite soaring house prices in the region).
I am also concerned that trusts will be expected to fund any pay rise from within when all this does is rob Peter to pay Paul; the pay rise must be properly funded otherwise patient care will suffer. Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England, has already gone on record requesting this from the Health Select Committee and the RCN will be making this clear in our ongoing campaign work.
While all these discussions are ongoing we must continue to keep the pressure up and this is where you come in. Please support us by arranging to meet with your MP to tell them about the financial hardships and difficulties you face as a nurse. Ask them to lobby for an above inflation pay rise which will begin to close the gap on the past seven years of real term pay cuts and help attract people to the profession at a time when there are 40,000 nurse vacancies in England.
Our staff would be very happy to support you with any MP meetings. Please contact Tracey Roberts, Regional Communications Manager, at email@example.com or 01392 357019 for advice, guidance and support.
Also do talk to your colleagues about the process and our campaign. The more everyone gets involved the better. We’ve already shown the power of our voice and together our voice is stronger.
Work in the independent sector and wonder how all this is relevant to you?
The NHS is struggling from years of funding restraint and the nursing profession has been severely impacted by the loss of the NHS bursary and capped pay. We all have an interest in the NHS whether as staff or service users ourselves or our family, so this affects us all. We also know that many independent employers look to the NHS to set the wages they pay nursing staff and we would expect them to pay at least NHS pay if not more. Please support your NHS colleagues in this campaign.