Royal College of Nursing urges ministers to ‘do the right thing’ as nursing staff in England and Wales say pay award is unacceptable

Press Release 15/09/2021

  • In England, almost 92% of members consulted said it was unacceptable
  • In Wales, almost 94% said the pay award was unacceptable

The Royal College of Nursing is urging the UK and Welsh governments to ‘do the right thing’ by reconsidering the 3% pay award for NHS staff.

A consultation of eligible RCN members in England showed that 91.7% of members said that the award is unacceptable. In Wales the figure was 93.9%.

The RCN says the matter is in politicians’ hands and governments can avoid further escalation by taking action to pay nursing staff fairly.

In Northern Ireland, the Minister for Health said he has “accepted the pay review recommendations in full” but nursing staff in the country will have to wait until October to see if the additional funding requested from the Northern Ireland Executive will be made available.

In Scotland, RCN members continue to be in a trade dispute with the Scottish government and NHS Scotland employers after they rejected an offer which gave them an average 4% pay increase.

RCN General Secretary and Chief Executive Pat Cullen said:

“Just a week after Boris Johnson talked about ‘good wages’ for nursing staff, they are delivering a clear verdict on his NHS pay award.

“Today, we are placing the matter back in the hands of politicians and asking what they are going to do next. Ministers must avoid a further escalation of this situation. Faced with this result, they can signal they intend to listen and do the right thing.

“Our members expect to see action from governments across the UK to pay nursing staff fairly. It is against the best interests of the health service, staff and patients for this issue to remain unaddressed - ministers are pushing people out of nursing when there are tens of thousands of unfilled jobs and patient care is being impacted."

Graham Revie, Chair of the RCN Trade Union Committee, said:

“RCN members have made their voice heard and ministers in Westminster and Cardiff must think again about how they are treating nursing staff. Members deserve to be paid fairly - nursing has earned it and our patients deserve it.

“Unsafe staffing levels hamper patient care. Fair pay is one major way of keeping people in work and attracting the next generation into our profession.

“The future of this campaign will always be determined by RCN members – this campaign is led by members like me in the interests of the whole profession.”


  • The RCN consultations on NHS pay, conducted by external company Civica, opened on 12 August and closed at noon on 13 September. In England, 25.4% of eligible members voted; 91.7% said the pay award was unacceptable, and 8.3% said it was acceptable. In Wales, 29.3% of eligible members voted; 93.9% said the pay award was unacceptable, and 6.1% said it was acceptable. The turnout in England is up by a third compared to the turnout in the NHS pay consultation in 2018.

Press Office Contacts

Daniel Sutherland, Senior Media Officer
020 7647 3695

Nick Spears, Senior Media Officer
020 7647 3696

Out of hours duty press officer
020 7647 3633