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RCN members vote to accept NHS pay deal

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has formally backed the NHS pay deal after 77% of their members voted in favour of the proposal.

The RCN is now also calling for similar rises to be extended to nursing staff across the NHS and social care, including those working in general practice.

The College stated that ‘cross-union support for the deal was confirmed’ at a meeting on Friday morning. The deal is expected to receive final approval at a meeting of unions, the NHS and Government on Wednesday 27 June. After this, a formal communication will be sent to NHS employers to begin paying the higher amount in July pay packets. The raise applies to the current financial year and NHS employers will backdate the increase to April 2018.

RCN members were given a six-week online vote, which closed on Tuesday and saw three in four members back the pay offer.

The RCN vote on the current deal was open to all members in England with an NHS Agenda for Change (AfC) contract and the result informed a meeting of RCN members elected to its trade union committee, which took the final decision.

The level of support is similar to that shown by members of other NHS unions. Unison is backing the pay deal after 84% of its members voted in favour (from a turnout of 30%), with Unite also giving the proposals their support after a 79% vote in favour from their NHS members (from a turnout of 27%).

The only union to reject the offer is GMB, whose members voted 87% against it.

         Read more: NHS pay deal 'overwhelmingly' rejected by GMB union members 

The Treasury has committed to fully fund the deal for the next three years with an extra £4.2bn and pledged to match this funding level in the three other countries of the UK.

In Scotland and Wales, pay negotiations are subsequently underway but the absence of government in Northern Ireland means the increase will be delayed.

Janet Davies, chief executive and general secretary of the RCN, said: ‘After today, the Government cannot assume that the thorny issue of NHS pay has been put to bed. This deal marks a step in the right direction but the bigger leap to truly fair pay still needs to be taken. It does give a genuine pay rise to over one million people from next month and that cannot be underestimated in challenging economic times.

‘Ministers knew that the public were behind our members when they turned up the heat last year. Today’s deal would not have been reached without the campaigning efforts of tens of thousands of nursing staff last year and we thank the public for the support shown.

‘But I want to reassure those members who did not support this particular deal that their views are respected and their arguments have been heard by the College. They can be assured that this is by no means the end of our campaigning for fair pay and their contribution to that cause will remain invaluable.'

She added: 'We will turn our campaigning fire on getting this pay rise extended to nursing staff in other parts of the NHS and social care too. The care sector already suffers from high staff turnover and so pay must be boosted there too if we are to prevent a nursing exodus for better paid jobs in hospitals and the community'.