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NHS pay in England and Wales: results of indicative ballots on industrial action announced

2 Dec 2021

Eligible RCN members have voted on what action they’d be willing to take in our fight for fair pay.

People at fair pay rally

The results of the RCN’s indicative ballots of members working on Agenda for Change contracts in England and Wales have been announced. 

In England, 23% of eligible members voted, with 89% of those saying they’d be willing to take action short of strike. 54% of voters said they’d be willing to withdraw their labour in strike action. 

In Wales, 29% of eligible members voted, with 91% of those saying they’d be willing to take action short of strike. 56% of voters said they’d be willing to withdraw their labour in strike action.

The ballots were called after the vast majority of members who responded in our previous consultations said the 3% NHS pay award for 2021/22 is unacceptable

Responding to the results, Interim Chair of RCN Council Carol Popplestone said: “Nursing staff do not consider industrial action lightly, but they will consider it if it means standing up for patients and their profession.

“To reduce the risk to patients, politicians need to urgently boost our ranks by recruiting and retaining more nurses. Our members feel disrespected and devalued. 

“They are expected to work in unsafe conditions, yet their pleas for help go unanswered. This drives many out of the profession because they are not prepared to put patients at risk.”

Your elected representatives on the RCN’s Trade Union Committee will now carefully consider the results and decide on next steps taking in consideration the views and feedback from the RCN English regional boards and the recommendations of the RCN Wales Board

A statutory industrial action ballot would be required before any industrial action could take place. For such a ballot to be valid, at least 50% of members in England and Wales would need to turn out to vote. Members will be the first to know when decisions are made.

Chair of the RCN Trade Union Committee Graham Revie said: “Ministers must stop pulling the wool over the public’s eyes and put patients’ interests above political point-scoring. There is a strong signal to Governments that the nursing voice must be heard and acted on.

Politicians boast about how many more nurses they’ve recruited but it’s just one side of the story. With colleagues voting with their feet and tens of thousands of unfilled vacancies, patients can’t get the care they deserve.

In Scotland, members of the RCN Scotland Board will be meeting the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care next week to discuss the results of their indicative ballot. 

In this, 90% of members who voted said they’d be willing to take industrial action short of strike over the Scottish NHS pay deal. Almost 30% of eligible members voted in the ballot with six in 10 saying they’d be willing to withdraw their labour in strike action.

In Northern Ireland, the Minister for Health recently announced that he will implement a 3% pay award for all Agenda for Change staff working in Health and Social Care. The RCN will consult with its members in Northern Ireland on the next steps.  

Across the UK, our fight for fair pay continues and won’t stop until our safety critical profession is respected and protected. Please stay engaged and keep campaigning - for yourself, your profession, and your patients. Download campaign materials and spread the word about fair pay. 


Page last updated - 03/05/2022