Three months after the RCN’s first ever day of strike action in England, the UK government has made a new offer on NHS pay and non-pay elements to bring industrial action to an end.
It comes after the RCN entered talks with the government at the end of February, cancelling strikes planned in England for the beginning of March. The RCN has since been joined in talks with other health unions who together make up the NHS Staff Council.
The offer made by the UK government today (16 March) is in addition to the pay rise NHS staff have already received for 2022/23. It consists of a one-off payment for the current financial year 2022/23 worth between £1,655 and £3,789 for Agenda for Change staff in England and a 5% consolidated (permanent) pay increase for 2023/24 for all those at point 2 of Band 2 and above.
The government has also set out a series of commitments and plans to improve pay, terms and conditions over time. These include a specific commitment to the RCN to consider a new pay spine exclusively for all nursing staff, as part of work to tackle challenges faced by nurses and nursing with the intention that resulting changes can be delivered within the 2024/25 pay year.
In addition, it has committed for the first time to a national evidence-based policy framework on safe staffing, focusing on registered nurses, that will draw on legislation in the rest of the UK and internationally. Alongside this, it will produce an implementation plan for the forthcoming NHS long-term workforce plan, including an intention to reduce reliance on agency staff.
Other commitments include permanently suspending NHS pension abatement rules, which ensure those returning to work can save more in their pensions and are incentivised to stay in the workforce. As well as this the government has committed to ensuring the pay-setting process operates effectively, tackling violence and aggression towards staff in the NHS and improving support for newly qualified nurses.
More details about the offer have been emailed to members it affects and can be read in full here. Members will decide whether to accept this or not by voting in a consultation launching on 28 March. It is vital that you vote.
The RCN’s elected Council is recommending that members vote to accept the offer. If they do, our dispute with the UK government over pay will formally end.
RCN General Secretary & Chief Executive Pat Cullen said: “The UK government was forced into these negotiations and to reopen the pay award as a result of the historic pressure from nursing staff. Members took the hardest of decisions to go on strike and I believe they have been vindicated today.
“After tough negotiations, there are a series of commitments here that our members can see will make a positive impact on the nursing profession, the NHS and the people who rely on it.
“Our members will have their say on it and I respect everybody’s perspective. Each should look closely at what it means for them.
“As well as the additional money now, we have made real progress with the government on safe staffing measures, a new pay structure for nursing, support for newly qualified staff and pensions too.
“It is not a panacea, but it is real tangible progress and the RCN’s member leaders are asking fellow nursing staff to support what our negotiations have secured.”
The most important thing you can do now is familiarise yourself with the pay offer and understand how it will impact you personally. You also need to make sure you know your RCN membership number and password, as you’ll need these to vote when the consultation opens. It’s important too, that you check that we’re using your preferred email address. You can do this at MyRCN.