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HomeHealth NewsNurses to hold "intensive" talks with government after strike halted

Nurses to hold “intensive” talks with government after strike halted

After the union canceled next week’s scheduled strike, Health Secretary Stephen Barclay will meet with Royal College of Nursing leaders to discuss pay.

After months of bitter dispute, the two parties announced in a joint statement that they would commence “intensive talks” on “pay, terms and conditions” and “productivity-enhancing reforms.”

Talks with government
Nurses to hold "intensive" talks with government after strike halted

The RCN had initially requested a wage increase of 5 percent above inflation.

It has since stated that it is eager to compromise with the government.

Other health unions expressed disappointment at being excluded from the discussions.

England’s March 1–3 strike was supposed to be the biggest of this winter’s pay dispute, affecting half of frontline services.

The action would have included nursing personnel from previously exempt emergency departments, intensive care units, cancer care, and other services.

Pat Cullen, general secretary of the RCN, stated, “We will lay out our plans, and they can lay out theirs – but I am confident that we will reach a fair pay settlement for our nursing staff.”

She added that they would leave no stone unturned and reach a fair pay agreement as quickly as possible to end the strikes.

For months, ministers refused to discuss raising the average 4.75 percent pay rise for nurses and other staff in 2022-23.

If the government hadn’t softened, Pat Cullen, the RCN’s leader, would not have gone into new negotiations.

The government announced the April 2023-24 pay increase shortly after resuming talks.

It informed the NHS pay review body that it was willing to provide a 3.5% pay increase. However, this does not preclude going higher than this.

Nobody has confirmed the precise scope of Wednesday’s discussions. But it seems likely that a payment will be proposed to supplement the existing award this year.

A negotiation source said next year’s salary raise could be retroactive.

The joint declaration stated: “The government and RCN have agreed to engage in intensive negotiations.

“Both parties are committed to reaching a fair and reasonable agreement that acknowledges the vital role that nurses and nursing play in the NHS, as well as the broader economic pressures facing the United Kingdom and the prime minister’s priority to halve inflation.

“On Wednesday, the health secretary will meet with the RCN to initiate discussions. The RCN will suspend its strike action during these negotiations.”

Sir Julian Hartley, CEO of NHS Providers, which represents health managers, stated that they would be “relieved” by the news.

“The past weeks have witnessed a worrisome increase in industrial action, which has severely affected patients. This is the ray of hope we all required “he said.

However, a spokesperson for one health union, Unison, stated that the government’s decision to meet only with the Royal College of Nursing and not with them would “do nothing to resolve the NHS pay dispute.”

Ambulance driver and junior doctor unions may declare more industrial action dates for the NHS.

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