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The proposed pay deal: what nurses had to say

Nurses have had mixed reactions to a £4.2 billion pay deal offering a pay rise of at least 6.5% over three years

Nurses have had mixed reactions to a £4.2 billion pay deal offering a pay rise of at least 6.5% over three years

Pay awards
Announcing the pay deal (left to right) the RCN's Josie Irwin, Unsion's Sara Gorton and NHS Employers' Danny Alexander.
Picture: Barney Newman

The RCN and other health unions have negotiated the deal with the government and, if accepted, it will apply to nurses working in England on Agenda for Change contracts.

Nurses already at the top of their pay bands will receive the lowest pay rise of 6.5% delivered over a three-year term – 3% in the first year, 1.7% as well as a lump sum of 1.1% in the second year, and 1.6% in the final year.

The other half of the nursing workforce will receive rises of between 9% and 29% depending on where they sit in their pay bands.

RCN and other unions recommend the deal

The RCN is recommending the deal along with 12 other unions, with the GMB being the only union not to endorse it.

Nurses and other union members will be consulted on whether to accept the deal which, if agreed, would be in pay packets in July and backdated to April.

But while the RCN describes it as 'the best pay deal in eight years from a government that is still committed to austerity', somes nurses remain sceptical about the proposals as they calculate their potential earnings.

On Nursing Standard’s Facebook page Ayesha Nuesa wrote: ‘I don't know how they did it but it’s definitely not a pay rise for me. After three years, I will still be in the same salary in the old system with 1% as compared with the new system with 6.5% increase. The only difference is just the lump sum of 1.1%. It’s still a big pay cut based on inflation.’

'Penalised for being loyal to the NHS'

Angela Brown posted: ‘Yet again experienced nurses penalised for being loyal to the NHS. I have been at the top of my band for a long time, I don’t want to go up a band so why should I only get 6.5% over three years?’

Other nurses expressed concern about what would happen if the deal is rejected.

Kate Capplis wrote: ‘The problem is if we reject it, we risk going back to just a 1% pay rise. So we are damned if we do and we are damned if we don’t. I guess this just shows how much the government "appreciates" us. At least we won’t lose our unsocial hours and holidays!’

It had been suggested via leaked documents before the announcement that nurses would lose a day's annual leave entitlement in return for the pay rise, which infuriated staff.

'Neither a magic wand nor a blank cheque'

Responding to yesterday's pay annoucement, Kathryn Lawrence-Hamley warned on Facebook: ‘Concentrate on what this means for you and your band... If everyone votes no they will ruin it for everyone! And go back to 1%.’

RCN general secretary Janet Davies praised the college’s members for fighting to scrap the ‘brutally unfair pay cap' and added the deal was 'neither a magic wand nor a blank cheque but commits significant government cash to overlooked NHS staff without making any unpalatable demands in return. For that reason, we will be asking members to vote in favour.’

The GMB union has recommended members reject the pay offer stating that a 6.5% increase over three years means a real terms pay cut and claiming inflation is set to hit 9.6% over the same period.

What does the proposal mean to the rest of the UK?

Meanwhile, other UK nations are considering what the proposal will mean for their NHS staff. RCN Scotland issued a statement to say that the Scottish Government had indicated its intention to negotiate a pay deal that ensures NHS staff in Scotland will be paid at least as much as their counterparts in other parts of the UK. 

Funding for a pay rise elsewhere would, in theory, flow through to the other UK nations via the Barnett Formula, which makes adjustments for public expenditure across the UK.

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