National & International

Nurses’ Union Calls for Reopening of Pay Negotiations Amid Consultant Doctors’ Offer, Sparking Discontent Among Health Groups

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The Royal College of Nursing (RCN), the UK’s largest nursing union, is demanding the government reopen pay negotiations following an offer made to consultant doctors.

This move has stirred dissatisfaction among other health unions, with the RCN hinting at the increased likelihood of future strikes.

Expressing concern over yesterday’s announcement, the RCN warns of potential repercussions and calls for a review of the proposed pay structure. The government extended an additional 4.95% “investment in pay” for the current financial year to most consultants, in addition to the already awarded 6% annual pay rise. The offer also includes a commitment to reorganize pay scales.

Members of the British Medical Association union are currently voting on whether to accept the proposal and cease their strikes.

The RCN’s plea comes in the wake of previous strikes during the cost of living crisis, with the union ultimately compelled to accept a government offer following a vote by a coalition of affected unions.

While the RCN’s membership did not favour the deal, they were outvoted in a council of unions governed by the Agenda for Change pay scale, which covers all staff except doctors, dentists, and top-tier managers.

The government-backed deal, accepted by several unions in May this year, included a 5% offer alongside a cash top-up for the 2023/24 period. Notably, it gained support from Unison, GMB, the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists, and the Royal College of Midwives, among others, but faced opposition from the RCN and Unite.

Critics within the council express frustration over the RCN’s perceived divergence from collective negotiations. A union source shared their discontent, saying: “This is really sneaky from the Royal College of Nursing; all unions involved in the NHS Staff Council are working together to negotiate a new deal for their members for 2024 with the secretary of state, and once again RCN have gone off on their own.”

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