Ministers were today told devastating NHS strikes will begin this winter unless they enter ‘formal pay negotiations’ with nurses in the next five days.
The Royal College of Nursing is demanding an inflation-busting rise for its 300,000 members.
It wants a hike of around 19.2 per cent, the equivalent of roughly an extra £6,835 for the average nurse on £35,600.
Steve Barclay has already held crisis talks with the RCN twice since it announced it would launch a ‘historic’ waves of strikes that are set to begin before Christmas and rumble on until May. Other medical unions are planning to co-ordinate walk-outs to cause as much chaos as possible.
The Health Secretary has, however, yet to agree a deal to avert piling further misery on patients this winter. He has said he will not budge on pay demands.
Pat Cullen, RCN’s general secretary and chief executive, said: ‘It is with regret that I write to say unless our next meeting is formal pay negotiations, beginning within the next 5 days, we will be announcing the dates and locations of our December strike action.’
The Royal College of Nursing is demanding a 19 per cent pay increase for its members and says devastating NHS strikes will begin this winter unless ministers enter ‘formal pay negotiations’ with in the next five days.
Steve Barclay has already held crisis talks with the RCN twice since it announced it would launch a ‘historic’ waves of strikes that are set to begin before Christmas and rumble on until May
This graph shows the Royal College of Nursing’s demands for a 5 per cent above inflation pay rise for the bands covered by its membership which includes healthcare assistants and nurses. Estimates based on NHS Employers data
The RCN is just one NHS union which has or is balloting its members over pay
In her letter, Ms Cullen said her recent meetings with Mr Barclay were welcome, but added that ‘I must not let my members nor the public confuse these meetings for serious discussions on the issues of NHS pay and patient safety’.
She said: ‘You have again asked to meet in the coming days and for this third occasion I must be clearer in my expectation.
‘There is only value in meeting if you wish to discuss – in formal, detailed negotiations – the issues that have caused our members to vote for strike action.
‘It is now more than a week since we announced our ballot outcome and your department has dedicated more time to publicly criticising our members’ expectations than finding common ground and a satisfactory conclusion.
‘I also point out that this stands in contrast to the approach taken by governments and executives in other parts of the United Kingdom.’
Critics of the strike have described the RCN as being ‘militant’.
Earlier this month, the RCN released the results of its UK-wide ballot, the largest in its history after urging 300,000 members to take to the picket lines over pay.
The results confirmed that around 100 hospitals in England will be affected by the disruption, as well all NHS organisations in Northern Ireland and Scotland, and all bar one in Wales.
While the strikes are not expected to disrupt emergency care, as special staffing rules will be in place to maintain patient safety, other NHS services will be hit.
Routine treatments like hip and knee ops could be cancelled, with cancer care and dialysis also be under threat of disruption.
The RCN’s demand comes after the medical union announced junior doctors will be balloted on industrial action in the New Year.
Announcing the move yesterday, the British Medical Association (BMA) insisted ‘all options are on the table’, meaning walk-outs could potentially happen.
Like the nursing union the BMA has for urgent talks with Mr Barclay Barclay, saying he still has the chance to avoid further NHS strikes this winter.
The BMA wants ministers to commit to a 26 per cent pay rise for junior doctors, who start on salaries of almost £30,000.
The graph shows the current average salary of public sector workers (blue bars) and how much more their unions are asking their pay to be increased by (yellow bars)
The British Medical Association is campaigning for a 26 per cent pay rise for junior doctors to compensate for what it says are 15 years of real term pay cuts. A doctor in their first year currently earns £29,384 so would earn about £7,800 more if union demands are met. Figures for more senior junior doctors would vary
This would, in theory, equate to around an extra £7,800 for doctors in their first year of training.
Salaries can extend up to £60,000, though.
No10 only awarded junior doctors a 2 per cent rise in its most recent pay reward. It ‘eroded morale’ among medics, the union claimed.
The BMA said it feared this would trigger a ‘vicious cycle of dwindling staff numbers and worsening patient care’.