NHS pay: Royal College of Nursing to hold 'summer of action' over 3% pay rise

July 28, 2021

Nurses across the UK have revealed plans for a "summer of action" over the 3% NHS pay rise.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) announced a number of events will be taking place throughout the country to raise awareness of its "fair pay" demands.

The world's largest nursing union has warned that the government is "failing" and has called for a fully-funded 12.5% pay rise.

The government had originally set a 1% pay rise for health care staff, but last week announced an increase to 3%.

However, the RCN described the sum as "shambolic" and said with inflation the 3% award is a "real-terms pay cut and leaves experienced nursing staff £200 a year worse off".

The government has said the money for the pay increase will be found from existing budgets, which has further angered the nursing profession as the funding will have been allocated for patient care, according to the RCN.

To highlight their demands, healthcare staff will be holding nearly 50 events up until September including a demonstration in Hove, a candlelit vigil in Norfolk and a campaign van travelling through Wales.

A meeting entitled "let's talk about industrial action" is also due to take place in the West Midlands in August.

In the middle of August, the union will canvas its members for their views on the pay award and all of the action will culminate with a demonstration in Liverpool ahead of the RCN's annual national congress in September.

After that members may be asked to take part in an indicative ballot on whether or not to take industrial action.

RCN's chief executive Pat Cullen has said the government's pay rise will "not be enough to prevent an exodus of exhausted NHS nursing staff" and called for ministers to "now be honest about the impact this would have on patient care".

She added that the summer of action is taking place to ensure "our colleagues, our patients, the public and politicians know that the campaign won't stop until nursing is respected and protected".

Ms Cullen said: "The government is failing to give the NHS the money it truly needs. This current game of smoke and mirrors is dangerous for patients and nursing staff who care for them.

"If ministers ignore the voice of nursing, they ignore the voice of patients - and that is something we, as nurses, will never allow."

The RCN is not the only union planning to take action against the pay rise. UNISON has also announced it will begin consulting NHS workers later this week on whether they accept the increase, or oppose it and are willing to take industrial action.

More than 300,000 people - across nursing, ambulance, operational and technical services - will be asked for their views and UNISON has said its elected leadership body is giving a clear steer that 3% is "unacceptable".

It claims the award does not meet the real living wage of £9.50 per hour for the lowest-paid health service workers and widens the gap between those at the top and bottom of the scale.

The British Medical Association has also hit back, calling out the government for not offering any pay increase for doctors on multi-year pay deals.

A Department of Health spokesperson said: "NHS staff - from doctors and nurses to paramedics and porters - are rightly receiving a 3% pay rise this year in recognition of their extraordinary efforts throughout this global pandemic.

"This follows the recommendations of the independent NHS Pay Review Body and the Review Body on Doctors' and Dentists' Remuneration, who considered a wide range of evidence from organisations across government, the NHS and trade unions in making the decision."

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