The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has paused nurse strikes as the college and Government have jointly agreed to enter into ‘intensive talks’.
In a joint statement, the Government and the RCN said that they have ‘agreed to enter a process of intensive talks’ focusing on pay, terms and conditions, and ‘productivity enhancing reforms’.
Following months of industrial action and the announcement of planned 48 hour strikes at the beginning of March this is the first time that the Government has agreed to enter into formal pay negotiations with the nursing union in England.
To date, the health secretary Steve Barclay has said he been unwilling to enter into pay negotiations with the union over the 2022-23 pay period, citing the responsibility of the NHS pay review body to recommend pay rates.
This comes after the governments of both Wales and Scotland have put nurse strikes on hold by offering revised pay deals to the RCN.
A statement said: ‘Both sides are committed to finding a fair and reasonable settlement that recognises the vital role that nurses and nursing play in the National Health Service and the wider economic pressures facing the United Kingdom and the Prime Minister’s priority to halve inflation.
‘The Health Secretary will meet with the Royal College of Nursing on Wednesday to begin talks. The Royal College of Nursing will pause strike action during these talks.’
The RCN had previously announced a significant escalation to industrial action in England, with a 48-hour strike planned for the 1-3 March. This strike would see nurses including cancer and emergency ward nurses from over 120 NHS employers walk out.