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NHS pay deal: RCN general secretary issues extraordinary personal apology

NHS pay deal amounts to less than nurses were promised, says RCN

Detail has emerged suggesting NHS pay deal amounts to less than nurses were promised


RCN general secretary Janet Davies. Picture: Barney Newman

RCN general secretary Janet Davies has taken the extraordinary step of issuing a personal apology to members after it emerged some in the NHS will not receive a 3% pay uplift this summer, as had been promised. 

The news has provoked uproar among some members. An online petition has been set up expressing no confidence in the RCN leadership, claiming the union's officials misled members about the pay deal.

Staff working for the NHS in England were told the pay offer, announced in March, would be their biggest pay rise in a decade and that those on Agenda for Change (AfC) contracts could look forward to a basic pay rise of 3% this July. 

First installment of a three-year deal

This month's pay increase is the first of three in the staggered deal, with a 1.7% rise due in 2019 and a final 1.7% increase in 2020. This would make the whole agreement worth a minimum of 6.5% over the three years.

It is understood a number of members contacted the RCN to query their July pay packet. In an email going out to all RCN members in England tonight, the general secretary said it had come to her attention in the past 24 hours that the deal was 'not as straightforward as we said'.

‘I can only apologise for this unnecessary confusion and assure you I am determined to resolve it’

Janet Davies, RCN general secretary

Ms Davies wrote: 'For that, I offer you a sincere personal apology. I’m as dismayed and angry as you are and will fight the corner of members at every turn.

'In good faith, we told all members they would receive a 3% uplift this summer. I now find this is not the case for everyone. I can assure you I am demanding answers for you.

'In the meantime, I can only apologise for this unnecessary confusion and assure you I am determined to resolve it.'

Ms Davies added that the college's elected council and trade union committee would meet shortly, after which she would update members on the next steps.

Staff in mid-band pay points

It remains unclear exactly which NHS staff will be affected but the RCN said it is most likely to be those in the middle of their pay band.

The college said incremental rises due following July's pay award would be paid later this financial year.

‘This is just a slap in the face for all of us really’

Holly Girdler, nurse

Nurses have used Nursing Standard's Facebook page to express their fury with the RCN, which alongside other health unions had negotiated the three-year deal with the government and NHS Employers.

Nurse Dana Pouncey wrote: 'Just sheer incompetence. If someone negotiating a business deal failed this much they would be sacked.

'If you can't even grasp the basic and fundamental terms of a deal you're negotiating you have no business doing said negotiating.

'The unions have failed and deceived as some of us tried to warn people. #NoConfidence.'

Ipswich nurse Holly Girdler wrote: 'Just a slap in the face for all of us really.

'Teachers and members [of the] public sector will be on a pay rise more than we get.

'We don't do our job for the money, but at least [we should] get the recognition for what we do – disgraceful.'

RCN members’ online petition

An RCN members' petition is demanding the college call an emergency general meeting. The petition states: 'As members we feel misled. Our livelihoods and the future of patient care are at stake and we deserve answers from those who represent us.'

The petition states that its signatories have no confidence in the RCN's leadership and is calling for resignations.

‘Clearly, if there are concerns we will work with the RCN’

Danny Mortimer, NHS Employers

Ms Davies's letter has not been welcomed by NHS Employers. Chief executive Danny Mortimer said: “I am disappointed by this communication and surprised as no concerns were raised with us.

'While I do not recognise the account Ms Davies presents, clearly if there are concerns we will work with the RCN and all the NHS's trade unions to resolve them.'


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