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RCN to ballot members on further strike action

The RCN has written to Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay to inform him that the union will ballot its 280,000 members in England’s NHS over further strike action to be held between June and December 2023

The move comes as a group of unions representing NHS staff, including nurses, voted to accept a pay offer from the government. Unison, GMB, the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists and the Royal College of Midwives were among those who supported the 5% pay offer, which comes alongside a one off payment. The RCN and Unite voted against the deal.

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‘At today’s formal meeting of the NHS Staff Council, the representative of the Royal College of Nursing used our votes to reject the Government’s pay offer of 16 March 2023.This is in line with how the majority of RCN members voted in the consultation which closed in mid-April,’ said Pat Cullen, general secretary and chief executive of the RCN.

‘Despite today’s meeting and the outcome that reflects the votes across all unions, the RCN remains in formal dispute with the Government and the NHS over pay levels. I entirely respect those, in our membership and that of other unions, who voted to accept. However, that was not the prevailing view of nursing staff. Nursing is the largest part of the NHS workforce and they require an offer that matches their true value. We understand the government’s intention now to pay the award to the NHS workforce as a whole. Though the pay offer was not enough for our members, I have repeatedly said that the Government’s approach should be to build upon it and that remains our position.’

The RCN has now announced plans to hold an aggregated ballot under the relevant legislation which, if supported by a sufficient number of RCN members, would provide the legal mandate to take strike action across the full NHS. Until this point, strike action has been in approximately 50% of NHS trusts and other NHS employers.

‘I will notify you of the precise ballot dates once we have confirmed the voting period with the independent scrutineer required by law,’ added Ms Cullen.

‘I accepted your invitation of a meeting to discuss a way forward and I would still wish to meet. It is my view that negotiations and a resulting additional offer that values nursing staff can prevent action and bring this dispute to a close.’