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No new strike mandate for NHS nurses in England

No new strike mandate for NHS nurses in England

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has failed to secure a new mandate for further NHS nurse strikes in England after its ballot did not receive the level of turnout required.

More than 100,000 RCN members voted in favour of further strike action over pay – equal to around 84% of those who voted.

However, the ballot did not meet the 50% turnout level required for action to be taken.

The college received 122,000 votes – equal to 43.4% – but 140,000 were needed, in line with requirements dictated by the 2016 Trade Union Act.

In an email to members, RCN general secretary and chief executive, Pat Cullen, said: ‘To every one of you who took part, whether by voting or encouraging others to, thank you. We have so much to be proud of.

‘While the vast majority of members who returned their ballot papers voted in favour of strike action, we did not meet the 50% turnout threshold necessary for us to be able to take further strike action.’

She recognised that while this was ‘disappointing’ for many nursing staff, the ‘fight for the fair pay and safe staffing that our profession, our patients, and our NHS deserves, is far from over’.

Ms Cullen pointed to the forthcoming NHS workforce plan, which the government has said is coming this week and said she was set to meet the Prime Minister today to ‘hear him out and to ask him the questions you wanted answering on his commitment to nurses and support workers’.

‘I know staff morale is low and the staffing crisis is set to worsen without immediate action. I will be telling him this today,’ she added.

‘We have started something special – the voice of nursing has never been stronger and we’re going to keep using it.’

In response, a Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: ‘We hugely value the work of nurses and welcome the end to hugely disruptive industrial action so staff can continue caring for patients and cutting waiting lists.

‘More than one million eligible NHS staff are receiving their pay rise and one-off payments this month, with an experienced nurse receiving over £5,100 in extra pay across last year and this year.’

They added: ‘We are committed to supporting nurses to continue to progress and develop, including as part of the upcoming NHS Long Term Workforce Plan.

‘We hope other unions who remain in dispute with the government recognise it is time to stop industrial action and move forward together.’

Members of the RCN previously voted to reject the government’s offer of a 5% consolidated pay award for 2023/24 and a one-off award for 2022/23 and a Covid bonus for 2023/24.

Yet, while the RCN remain in disagreement over the deal, the offer was implemented after a majority of unions voted to accept earlier this year.

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