The RCN will ballot members in Wales on whether to take industrial action following the Welsh government’s decision to award nurses a pay increase of at least 4%.
An emergency meeting of the Welsh RCN elected council on 22 July voted to go ahead with the ballot following meetings with the Welsh government.
The session took place on the same day that the Welsh government announced the pay increase of at least £1,400 for 2022-23 for all nursing staff on Agenda for Change contracts. For staff at the top of band 6 and in band 7, the £1,400 payment will be enhanced to be equivalent to a 4% pay rise.
The country’s health minister also said that staff working within general practice, dental teams and community pharmacies across Wales should receive a ‘fair, proportionate and equitable pay uplift’.
The RCN claimed that the ‘Welsh government made it clear that there was no further funding available and thus there was no further negotiations on the pay award’.
With inflation at a 40-year high of 9.4%, the pay award has been criticised as being a real-terms pay cut for nurses already under immense pressure from the cost of living crisis.
This comes as the Health and Social Care committee’s report into the healthcare workforce finds that staff shortages are having a ‘severe impact on patients and those in receipt of care’.
Helen Whyley, director of RCN Wales, said: ‘Nurses will be outraged to learn of this award. This will do nothing to fill over 1,719 vacancies for registered nurses in NHS Wales. It won’t encourage nurses to stay nursing and it won’t inspire a next generation to join them.
‘Yet again this pitiful and insulting pay announcement does not even come close to making up for the fall in value of nursing pay, compared with a decade ago
‘Nurses stay in the profession because they love their work. But this is a slap in the face for a nursing workforce that is stressed, devalued, and emotionally exhausted. We will be consulting with our 26,000 members in Wales about the next steps the RCN will be taking.’
The RCN will be holding a webinar for Welsh members tonight between 6 and 7pm to discuss the next steps forward.
The nursing body has also launched an industrial action ballot in England, where nurses will receive a pay rise of around 4% on average, and warned turnout is critical to the vote.