Nurses in England would ‘lose too much’ by rejecting the government’s latest NHS pay deal, the Royal College of Nursing chief executive and general secretary has said ahead of a union meeting this evening.
In a blog published on Monday, Pat Cullen warned RCN members that negotiations with the government would not resume if the offer was rejected, and called for a ‘respectful debate’ on the situation.
Concerned that ‘myths get circulated faster than facts’, Ms Cullen said she would explore the finer details of the recent pay talks, while addressing ‘misinformation’ that she claimed had spread since.
While recognising the NHS pay deal was not ‘what we all know nursing really deserves’, she also stressed this was the ‘final offer’ and warned members they would ‘lose too much by rejecting it in full’.
‘If I believed the government was going to give more, the talks would still be going,’ she added.
For NHS nurses in England, ministers have offered a one-off payment for 2022/23, worth between £1,655 and £3,789, and a 5% consolidated pay increase for 2023/24.
Health unions representing NHS staff are currently consulting their members on whether they wish to accept or reject the offer.
The RCN has been campaigning for a pay increase for NHS nursing staff at 5% above inflation, which in recent months had been at 14%.
But in her blog on Monday, Ms Cullen dismissed the notion that the RCN had wanted a 19% pay rise from the government.
She claimed this figure was a product of ‘government scare-mongering’ and that the figure ‘has never been said by me, my colleagues, on the RCN website or any campaign leaflets’.
Yet, since the NHS pay deal was announced, many RCN members have expressed frustration and disappointment with the RCN for falling short of 19%, regardless of whether Ms Cullen herself committed to it or not.
Ms Cullen’s comments come amid mounting pressure from members of various health unions to reject the offer, citing a concern that the deal would lock members into a below inflation pay adjustment for the foreseeable future.
A nurse-led cross-union group called NHS Workers Say No has been leading an effort to block the latest NHS pay deal, distributing leaflets and organising online meetings to mobilise support against it.