Nurses to vote on more strikes despite NHS pay deal

Nurses and ambulance workers continue strikes across England

Nurses have threatened further strikes as most health unions backed a five percent rise.

The Royal College of Nursing says it is to ballot members on more action between June and December “across the full NHS”.

Over a million health workers in England are to be given a pay rise this year and a cash sum for last after most unions agreed to the deal.

Health Secretary Steve Barclay said the deal for NHS staff on the Agenda for Change contract, which includes all workers apart from doctors, dentists and senior managers was the “final offer”.

The 14 unions representing staff on the contract have balloted members over the past few weeks.

Unison, GMB, the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy and the Royal College of Midwives voted to accept, while the RCN and Unite rejected it.

The ballot results were reported at an NHS Staff Council meeting on Tuesday.

In a letter to Mr Barclay, RCN chief Pat Cullen said up to now only 50 percent of NHS employers have been affected by the union’s strikes.

She added: “We will 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.”

And Unite’s general secretary Sharon Graham also said it “will be escalating strike action”.

She added: “The Staff Council vote is not binding on individual unions and therefore the vote will not stop Unite
representing the best interests of our members.”

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Mr Barclay said: “I’m pleased the NHS Staff Council has voted to accept our pay offer, demonstrating that a majority of NHS staff agree this is a fair and reasonable deal.” He added: “It was negotiated collectively…RCN were at the negotiating table, indeed Pat Cullen recommended this deal.”

Sara Gorton, at Unison, said health staff “shouldn’t have needed to take action in the first place”.

Matthew Taylor, boss of the NHS Confederation, said he was worried four unions remained in dispute with the Government over this deal along with junior doctors. He called the agreement “very positive” but “not the line in the sand”.

Sir Julian Hartley, boss of NHS Providers, warned backlogs “stretch back long before strikes and the pandemic due to years of underfunding and many thousands of vacancies”.

Mr Barclay is to meet junior doctors to discuss the row over pay.

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