On Tuesday 10 October 2017, UK Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt announced in the House of Commons that “the pay cap has been scrapped”. The Secretary of State added: “We recognise it wasn’t sustainable to carry on with the 1% going forward and that’s why next year we’ve been given the leeway to have more flexible negotiations”.
RCN members in Northern Ireland can rightly be proud of the significant role they played in helping to bring about the scrapping of the cap. The hard work and determination of our members, particularly those who lobbied our local MPs, has been crucial to the success of the campaign.
There is still, however, much more to do to ensure that nurses and health care staff receive a fair pay award, particularly here in Northern Ireland. As RCN Chief Executive and General Secretary Janet Davies has already stated, the next pay offer must not come in below inflation and the health service must not be asked to make other cuts to pay for it.
In addition, we will continue campaigning to have the 2017-2018 pay award implemented here and then to close the gap between nurses’ pay in Northern Ireland and that in the rest of the UK. We will also be providing robust evidence to the independent NHS Pay Review Body in relation to future pay awards.
It is right, however, that we take a moment to reflect on what we have achieved so far. As RCN Northern Ireland Board Chair, I would like to thank all our pay champions, other members, and staff colleagues, who have worked together with commitment and great skill in order to help deliver our objectives. We will continue to campaign until we are truly able to say that we have delivered fair pay for Northern Ireland nurses.