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RCN prepared to battle government over regional pay plans

The Royal College of Nursing is “prepared to take the government on” in its plans to impose regional pay in the NHS, according to the college’s chief executive and general secretary Peter Carter.

At a fringe meeting at the RCN Congress in Harrogate Mr Carter told nurses the idea of bringing in regional pay was “seriously flawed”.

He said the idea had been tried in Sweden where over an eight-year period it led to a demoralised workforce and turned into a “shambles”.

This was not what the NHS needed to go through, he told nurses.

Yesterday 99% of delegates voted in favour of fighting the introduction of localised pay bargaining, which the government wants to see across the public sector.

Mr Carter said: “I’m not talking about industrial action at the moment, I am just not in that mindset  but we are determined to work with the other unions to be united on this.

“We really are prepared to take the government on.”

But in a reference to the RCN’s disappointing turnout of just 16 per cent on its pension ballot, the RCN chief executive said: “We have to find a way of mobilising the workforce. This is months away, maybe even a year but we have got to be strong, we have got to brave and go for this.”

The Department of Health has suggested new higher cost zones could be built into the existing Agenda for Change framework to allow more regional pay.

This would see a “prolonged period of constrained pay” to create what the DH has described as “headroom” for the new zones.

The pay review body has yet to make final recommendations.

Readers' comments (5)

  • oh the govt must be quaking in their boots!!

    where were you opposing the health reforms??

    where were you on the pensions issue??

    doing absolutely nothing as usual!!

    the nhs is finished, the nursing proffession is finished

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  • it is highly unlikely that the nhs and the nursing profession is finished - it will still limp along somehow.

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  • The RCN was there. More to the the point, where were you...

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  • Anon 17 May @ 2.47pm

    The RCN cannot fight the plans of the govt without a mandate from it's members. Unfortunately, nurses refuse to engage in politics which gives the gvt freedom to do esactly what it wants. Regional pay will come, because the profession continues to stick it's head in the sand.

    I do wonder whether the professional and union arms of the RCN need to be seperate in order to effect a cultural change amongst nursing.

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  • “We have to find a way of mobilising the workforce. This is months away, maybe even a year but we have got to be strong, we have got to brave and go for this.”

    Then you have to show REAL leadership. The profession is broken spirited, disparate, fragmented and the few who DO have a clue what is going on are so disheartened and sick to death of inaction from all sides that many no longer care. As I have said on many occassions nursing is its own worst enemy. The apathy and self serving ignorance is astonishing in this profession, and is one of the multitude of reasons that I recently finally decided to give up and get out. As the RCN you should be leading from the front, right from the start (not sitting on the fence until the game is practically over), issuing strong, firm DIRECTIVES (not bullsh*t 'conversations' or 'negotiations'), you need to get every single one of your reps to get to every ward, every nurse and make sure they vote, make sure they understand the issues involved, put posters up, get the information out there. And this goes for all issues as well. I got sick and tired of the amount of nurses i met in work who STILL thought it was illegal for nurses to strike even when I was preparing to go out marching not so long back, I got furious at the amount that simply didn't care! During the strikes my trust sent out letters which were pinned in all the staff rooms stating catagorically that members who went out on strike would be disciplined and guess what happened, nurses gave in!! Reps were complained to, but NOTHING HAPPENED!!! Things like this NEED to be sorted if you want to mobilise the workforce!! Dammit Carter, you are sitting by and ALLOWING this to happen! I agree wholeheartedly that the profession itself is just as much to blame for allowing itself to be dismantled, but this is what happens without real leadership. Look at the marked difference between yourselves and the teaching unions and profession if you want a point of reference. They are not perfect, I grant you, but the second the government attacks the teaching profession they are right on it.

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