A nurse-led group is calling on NHS staff to reject the latest Government pay offer, citing concerns the NHS pay deal will leave staff with below inflation pay adjustments.
NHS Workers Say No, a cross-union group, is leading an effort to block the latest pay agreement, threatening the NHS with further strike action should talks once again collapse.
The pay deal, which is being recommended by the union Unite and on which the RCN is remaining neutral, would offer nurses a permanent pay rise of 5% as well as a one-off payment around 6% of a nurse’s yearly salary.
However, while the Government has celebrated successfully agreeing a deal with union negotiators, any offer will still need to receive a vote of approval from union members to be accepted.
Members of NHS Workers Say No, a grassroots campaign group, has already distributed thousands of leaflets, held online calls, and created WhatsApp groups in an effort to lead a vote against the deal.
In a public statement, NHS Workers Say No wrote: ‘We are voting because we have had enough of our patients receiving unsafe care, in an understaffed and underfunded service which is rapidly being sold-off for profit. Adding that NHS staff are ‘overdue an above inflation pay rise’.
However, the pay deal has not been universally rejected by all those representing NHS staff.
Sara Gorton, head of health at Unison, which is endorsing the deal, said: ‘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.’
She added that ‘this is better than having to wait many more months for the NHS pay review body to make its recommendation’.
Likewise, the separate pay spine for nurses, a part of the NHS pay deal which has been the subject of much criticism on social media, is also being welcomed by some as a valuable tool for securing fair pay into the future.
Leanne Patrick, a Scottish specialist mental health nurse in domestic abuse and sexual violence, told Nursing in Practice: ‘Doctors have a separate pay spine that better reflects their skills and experience. It’s important that nurses are respected in the same way and that we are paid better for skilled nursing care.
‘We desperately need to retain nurses. A 5% pay rise won’t do this but a separate pay spine that allows us to negotiate our terms separately might well make a difference.
‘All NHS staff deserve better pay but we all need different things. Nursing is a unique profession, and we need to be able to negotiate separately for our unique needs.’
Another nurse and RCN member, who wished to remain anonymous, said they were ‘actually encouraged by seeing nursing-only provisions being discussed’ and felt the separate pay spine was a ‘step in the right direction’.
They added: ‘Agenda for Change has been roundly criticised by the profession for years. In its present form the unique scope of practice of nursing is simply not recognised.’
An RCN spokesperson said: ‘Members will vote in the ballot that opens soon and that is the best way for them to tell Government and the College how they feel about this pay offer.
‘This democratic process is extremely important to us and we always committed to giving members a vote on the government’s final offer.
‘All NHS staff can see what they would personally gain from the deal and vote accordingly.’