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Nurses’ strike plans on hold after ‘positive’ start to pay talks

Union and Scottish ministers enter negotiations to avert industrial action in Scotland's NHS as nurses' leader calls on ministers in the rest of the UK to follow suit
Nurses hold banners calling for better pay during march in London

Union and Scottish ministers enter negotiations to avert industrial action in the NHS as public opinion appears to be backing health staff

Nurse strike dates in Scotland have been put on hold following ‘positive’ pay talks between unions and the government.

The RCN confirmed it will not be announcing strike action in Scotland yet after formal pay talks with the Scottish Government began.

Talks to avert strike action

The first round of strike dates had been expected to be announced this week . But after meeting first minister Nicola Sturgeon on 18 November RCN general secretary Pat Cullen said: ‘This morning's meeting was positive and Scottish Government is taking the right approach – getting

Union and Scottish ministers enter negotiations to avert industrial action in the NHS as public opinion appears to be backing health staff

Nurses hold banners calling for better pay during march in London
Picture: Alamy

Nurse strike dates in Scotland have been put on hold following ‘positive’ pay talks between unions and the government.

The RCN confirmed it will not be announcing strike action in Scotland yet after formal pay talks with the Scottish Government began.

Talks to avert strike action

The first round of strike dates had been expected to be announced this week. But after meeting first minister Nicola Sturgeon on 18 November RCN general secretary Pat Cullen said: ‘This morning's meeting was positive and Scottish Government is taking the right approach – getting to the negotiating table and seeing how this action could be averted.

‘With new NHS pay talks opening, we will not be announcing strike action in Scotland until that process reaches a conclusion. This is an offer that applies to all governments.’

Formal pay talks in the country are expected to resume this week. Nurses in Scotland were originally offered a 5% pay increase, which was recently upped to around 8% backdated to April after criticism from unions and nurses.

Public support for a nurses’ strike

New polling suggests a majority of people support nurses in their decision to strike over pay patient safety. An Ipsos survey for the PA news agency found 74% of adults polled think it’s acceptable for nurses to strike for improvements in patient care, while 71% said it was acceptable for them to take industrial action for a pay rise.

Only 13% of people said it was unacceptable for nurses to strike for better standards of care, while 16% said it was unacceptable for a pay increase.

But in the survey of 1,083 adults, 47% said the pay rise unions are asking for is too big, while 38% thought it was about right and 9% who said it was too low.

The RCN want its NHS members to get five percentage points above inflation, which it says would address severe recruitment and retention issues, with the NHS in England alone struggling to cope with a nurse shortage of 47,000.

The Scottish and Welsh governments have written to England’s health and social care secretary Steve Barclay asking for more funding for nurses’ pay.

In a letter to health and social care secretary Steve Barclay following the chancellor’s Autumn Statement, Ms Cullen said the government ‘remains unprepared to give RCN members the support they need at work and at home’.

Strike dates in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are expected to be announced this week unless formal talks begin.


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