'Nursing staff are fighting for their patients, and the very future of our NHS – not just for their pay.'
The government announced this week that more than a million NHS England staff will receive increased salaries and one-off payments as part of a new pay deal. Employees who are eligible for the Agenda for Change contract, the national pay system for certain NHS staff, including paramedics, nurses, midwives, 999 call handlers, cleaners and safety guards, will receive a 5 percent pay rise. The deal also includes a one-off payment for 2022 and an NHS backlog bonus for 2023, worth between £1,250 and £1,600.
The offer was first announced by health secretary Steve Barclay on May 2. While most unions in England had accepted the offer, Unite and Royal College of Nursing (RCN) members rejected it. When Barclay announced the pay offer last month, Pat Cullen, general secretary of the RCN, called on the health secretary to reopen negotiations, which she said needed to “start off in double figures.”
RCN members who are impacted by the deal are now voting on whether to take further strike action. A ballot on the strike action will close on June 23.
Opposing the deal are members of Unite the Union from the Guy’s and St Thomas’ workforce, including nurses, who commenced a 24-hour walkout on June 2. A separate strike by Unite members working for the Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust took place on June 2.
RCN executive director for pay Colin Poolman said the pay deal, which was implemented on June 1, was “in no way good enough.”
“Our members have spoken loud and clear – their pay is far from fair and appropriate.
“It in no way matches the value or importance of nursing staff who have experienced a real-terms pay cut for the last decade.
“Nursing staff are fighting for their patients, and the very future of our NHS – not just for their pay,” he added.
Unite national lead officer Onay Kasab shared similar concerns, saying: “The government has nothing to crow about – the pay deal is yet another real-terms pay cut for over a million dedicated and skilled NHS staff.
“The deal does nothing to address the ongoing recruitment and retention crisis which is undermining the NHS and resulting in highly talented staff leaving in droves.
“It is for these reasons that Unite and other NHS unions rejected the deal and why we are escalating industrial action to ensure that the government returns to the negotiating table and makes an offer that meets the needs of NHS staff.”
Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead is a contributing editor to Left Foot Forward
Image credit – Creative Commons – Tim Dennell
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