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Nurses demand fresh negotiations over pay

Nurses have called for pay talks to reopen (PA)
Nurses have called for pay talks to reopen (PA)

Nurses have called on the Government to reopen pay talks after expressing dismay over the pay deal struck by the nation’s top doctors.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) reacted angrily over the pay award offered to the nation’s top doctors, suggesting that the news would make nursing strikes “more likely in the future”.

The union said on Tuesday that nurses would be “appalled” by the deal agreed between the Government and consultants in England, which will see some get a pay rise of around 19%.

The RCN did not agree to the pay deal which saw nurses get a 5% pay rise 2023/24 and a cash sum for last year, but union members decided not to continue with strikes after it was imposed in the summer.

While there is no current mandate for nurses in England to strike, the union warned that more than 100,000 nurses voted for strike action in the last ballot.

And it said that it remains in formal dispute with the Government over the pay deal.

Now the union has written to Health Secretary Victoria Atkins calling for fresh talks.

The letter, penned by RCN chief executive and general secretary Pat Cullen, states: “It is time for nurses and nursing to be treated with the respect they deserve and for nursing pay also 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.”

She added: “The Government should invest less time and attention in its attempt to impose draconian anti-strike laws on nursing staff and get back around the table and discuss nursing pay.

“Every slight discourages another individual from choosing nursing as a profession and puts more patients at risk. The NHS requires the stability of a nursing foundation and now more than ever, this must be resolved.

“We want to be part of the collective effort to rebuild our NHS. It is your responsibility to act now. Nursing staff deserve better.”

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.

“This deal was accepted by the NHS Staff Council and 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.”