NHS nurse pay: union calls on government to reopen negotiations
Nurses’ leader tells minister profession’s ‘inadequate’ pay is a sexual equality issue thrown into sharp relief by consultants’ more generous deal, but government rules out fresh talks
A nurses’ leader has called on the government to reopen pay talks after a fresh deal offered to NHS consultants this week left nurses’ pay looking ‘increasingly inadequate’.
Most consultants will get an additional pay rise of up to 12.8% on top of the 6% increase already awarded, meaning some will see their pay go up by 19%.
But a government spokesperson ruled out the possibility of restarting pay negotiations with nurses.
Reform NHS nurses’ pay as a matter of urgency
RCN general secretary Pat Cullen wrote to new health and social care secretary Victoria Atkins to call for renewed talks, claiming the college remains in formal dispute over this year’s pay deal. College members voted to reject the 2023-24 pay deal, which gave nurses a 5% pay rise alongside a series of one-off payments for last year. However, the offer was accepted by a majority on the NHS Staff Council, of which the RCN is a member.
‘Nursing is one of the most diverse and female-dominated professions within the public sector, and the injustice of nursing pay is also a gender issue’
Pat Cullen, RCN general secretary
Ms Cullen said in her letter to the secretary of state: ‘It is time for nurses and nursing to be treated with the respect they deserve and for nursing pay to be reformed.
‘Nursing is one of the most diverse and female-dominated professions within the public sector, and the injustice of nursing pay is also a gender issue. The greatest pay inequality in the NHS relates to nursing. This must be addressed as a matter of urgency.’
The RCN said ministers promised during pay negotiations to explore the idea of creating a separate pay spine for nurses but have not treated the issue as urgent. However, consideration of a nurses-only pay spine was a condition of the pay offer the RCN membership rejected. The college is alone among the health unions in wanting to deviate from the Agenda for Change pay structure in this way.
Nurses’ 5% pay award shows how much we value them – and we won’t reopen negotiations
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: ‘We hugely value the hard work of NHS nurses and that is why we provided a 5% pay rise. We also provided two significant non-consolidated awards, which for nurses at the top of Band 5 was over £2,000, equivalent to an extra 6.1% of their basic pay.
‘We continue to work collaboratively, including with the RCN, to deliver a series of agreed reforms but we will not be reopening negotiations on pay. The offer for consultants includes significant reform for a pay scale that has not been modified since 2003.’
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