Pat Cullen says government’s NHS pay deal is final offer

Growing number of NHS workers are calling to reject the pay offer

Pat Cullen

The General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has said the government’s NHS pay offer is final, as campaigners brand the offer ‘insulting’ and calls grow to reject it.   

Unions UNISON, RCN, GMB and the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy have all recommending the offer, which was proposed by the government last Thursday, however Unite the Union have not.

In a statement to members of the RCN yesterday, Cullen wrote that, although the offer is not what nursing deserves, she said they would ‘lose too much’ by rejecting it in full.

The offer is for a permanent 5% pay rise for 2023/24 and includes an additional one-off lump sum for 2022/23 that rises in value up the NHS pay bands – worth £1,655 for staff at the bottom band and up to £3,789 for staff at the top band.

Industrial action set to go ahead this week by NHS staff was paused as the offer is being put to union members to vote on.

The pay offer affects more than 1 million NHS staff in England and has faced growing push back by workers who are urging members to reject the below inflation pay rise.

Campaigners have argued that it would not solve the recruitment and retention crisis in the NHS and that the offer is merely moving existing NHS funds around.

The cross-union group NHS Workers Say No has called the offer ‘insulting’ and is campaigning for NHS staff not to accept it.

In response to dissatisfaction surrounding the offer, Cullen attempted to address concerns and misinformation by writing to her members about the details of the negotiations.

Cullen said: “As your leader, I felt a great weight of responsibility in the talks with ministers and officials. I heard your anger and share it too.

“I have had the privilege of many months speaking to thousands of nursing staff throughout the country and I carried your voices into those official rooms.

“My simple message is that accepting this does not mean giving up. Your voice and actions have pushed the government to put billions more into NHS pay packets.

“The campaign for fair recognition of nursing and fair pay is not over – governments of all colours and everywhere in the UK now know what to expect when RCN members speak up. We will keep pushing for what’s fair for nursing.”

She went on to state that, ‘this is not the first offer, it’s the final offer’.

“The RCN said no to a dozen earlier versions of this to get the government to this point. The talks did not stop until we had got every penny the government was going to give. If I believed the government was going to give more, the talks would still be ongoing,” wrote Cullen.

Unite General Secretary, Sharon Graham, said the offer was not one they could recommend and that it reflected how this government does not represent the interests of workers or the NHS.

“It is clear that the government has been forced into negotiations and the subsequent move, because of strike action and the support of the public for the NHS,” said Graham.

“It is clear that this government does not hold the interest of workers or the NHS at heart. Their behaviour and disdain for NHS workers and workers generally is clear from their actions.

“Britain has a broken economy and workers are paying the price.”

Whilst UNISON Head of Health, Sara Gorton, said it was a shame it had taken so long to get the offer on the table, but that members should accept it, rather than wait for the next pay review body.

Gorton said: “Following days of intensive talks between the government, unions and employers, there’s now an offer on the table for NHS staff.

“If accepted, the offer would boost pay significantly this year and mean a wage increase next year that’s more than the government had budgeted for.

“This is better than having to wait many more months for the NHS pay review body to make its recommendation.”

Pat Cullen joins members of the RCN in a Q&A event this evening to discuss the NHS pay offer further.

Hannah Davenport is trade union reporter at Left Foot Forward

(Photo credit: Good Morning Britain / YouTube)

Left Foot Forward’s trade union reporting is supported by the Barry Amiel and Norman Melburn Trust

Barry Amiel and Norman Melburn Trust logo
Comments are closed.