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RCN blasts government ‘rush’ to start next year’s NHS pay talks, as current deal causes strikes

16 Nov 2022

We’ve responded to the formal start of the NHS pay round process for 2023/24.

Nursing staff protesting

Health Secretary Steve Barclay has written to the NHS pay review body (PRB) asking it to make recommendations on NHS pay for 2023/24. 

This marks the formal start of the pay round process in which the PRB gathers evidence before suggesting what pay award staff on Agenda for Change contracts should get from April next year. 

In the letter Mr Barclay stresses that the NHS budget has already been set until 2024 to 2025 and that pay awards must: “strike a careful balance - recognising the vital importance of public sector workers while delivering value for the taxpayer, considering private sector pay levels, not increasing the country’s debt further, and being careful not to drive prices even higher in the future.”

In response, RCN General Secretary & Chief Executive Pat Cullen said: "This letter suggests the government is in denial. Ministers are in a rush to talk about next year when hundreds of thousands are saying they need action immediately and are struggling to live on the current pay award. 

"The letter sends concerning signs that the UK government has not yet heard the voice of our members with plans to keep to the same NHS budget and curtailing the pay process to stay below inflation and give more real-terms cuts.

“The challenge is not so much a 'careful balance' but the need for a radical change of course. On the eve of the autumn statement, our members will be concerned at the government's failure to move."

Last week, we announced that members at the majority of NHS employers across the UK have voted to take strike action over Agenda for Change pay announcements earlier this year, which left experienced nurses 20% worse off in real terms compared to a decade ago.  

We’re campaigning for a pay rise of 5% above RPI inflation to overcome those real-terms pay cuts, support nursing staff through the cost-of-living crisis and recognise their safety critical skills.  

There are several strike volunteer roles we're currently recruiting to. Get involved as we prepare for strike action and share our campaign resources to remind your friends and family that our fight for fair pay is also a fight for patient safety.  


Page last updated - 16/04/2023