This site is intended for health professionals only

Nurse strikes cancelled in Wales after government offers to talk on ‘non-pay’ issues

Nurse strikes cancelled in Wales after government offers to talk on ‘non-pay’ issues

Strikes due to be held by NHS nurses in Wales next month have been cancelled following an offer from the Welsh Government to hold fresh talks with the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).

Discussions between ministers and the college will be focussed on non-pay elements of the most recent pay package implemented last month.

The RCN Wales branch has made clear that no further discussion on the pay elements of the award for 2022/23 and 2023/24 will take place.

But director Helen Whyley said she was sticking by her commitment that if the Welsh Government reached out for discussion, strike plans would be halted.

The now cancelled strikes were due to take place in Wales on 12 and 13 July and were initiated following the RCN’s rejection of the latest pay deal from the Welsh Government.

The deal consisted of a 1.5% consolidated increase and a 1.5% off-off payment for 2022/23, as well as a further one-off ‘recovery payment’, which on average, equated to 3%.

And for 2023/24, a 5% consolidated increase was awarded to NHS staff – taking effect from April 2023.

There was also a list of non-pay elements, such as career progression, the implementation of a nurse retention plan and commitments on staff wellbeing – which is understood to be the focus of the new talks.

Following the government’s offer to talk, RCN Wales has also put its new ballot – which was set to ask members whether they supported strike action for a further six months – on hold.

As part of the ongoing pay dispute, NHS nurses in Wales had taken to the picket lines in December 2022 and earlier this month.

Announcing the latest news, Ms Whyley said the most recent strike action from members had ‘clearly been effective’.

The Welsh Government has ‘listened to RCN members voices about issues facing nursing in Wales, and have reached out to RCN Wales for official discussions on non-pay elements of working conditions’, she said.

‘For this reason, we are pausing the planned strikes for July and the statutory ballot action asking members to vote on more industrial action for the rest of the year.’

Ms Whyley added: ‘I have been clear that if Welsh Government reached out for discussion, we would halt our planned action.

‘Industrial action continues to be a last resort for nursing staff, and I have heard their stories of the personal sacrifice they make every day fighting for safe care for their patients that pushed them to vote for strike action.

‘The pressure put on the Welsh Government by our members has been key to these talks being moved forward.’

She explained that ‘elected members have agreed that next month’s ballot launch and strike action should be put on hold and that we should return to official talks on behalf our members in Wales’.

‘Welsh government has the power t0 end this ongoing dispute,’ added Ms Whyley.

The RCN Wales director said she was ‘hopeful’ that the talks would ‘result in significant positive outcomes for NHS nursing staff in Wales, that will improve their terms and conditions of employment, in addition to the pay award that has been implemented’.

‘These latest discussions will be time limited, and the RCN will update its members on the outcomes from these talks in due course,’ she added.

See how our symptom tool can help you make better sense of patient presentations
Click here to search a symptom