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Government threat over pay deal

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The government has threatened to stage or reduce its pay offer if nurses do not agree to a multi-year deal.

The three-year deal, unveiled last week, is worth just under 8% and, in the first year honours in full the 2.75% increase recommended by the NHS Pay Review Body.

But, in a letter seen by NT, health service chief executive David Nicholson has warned that the PRB’s recommendation could be ignored if nurses fail to back the longer-term deal.

‘If the proposed agreement is not accepted by union members, the government reserves the right to review its response to the [PRB] recommendations and decide whether to accept, stage, or abate them in the context of a one-year settlement,’ he wrote.

Kevin Coyne, Unite/Amicus head of health, said: ‘It is absolutely outrageous. Our members are sick and tired of the government messing with their pay.’

But a DH spokesperson said: ‘The two principle unions RCN and Unison are firmly behind the NHS pay award for nurses and other healthcare professionals, so we are confident that it will be accepted and this will not be an issue.’

Mr Nicholson also added that he believed that the current offer was a ‘balanced deal that will be good for staff, employers and for patients’.

The proposals, drawn up by negotiators from the RCN, Unison, NHS Employers and the government, include headline rises of 2.75%, 2.4% and 2.25% over three years, with extra money for band five nurses. The deal is the best currently on offer in the public sector.

Unison, RCN and other health unions are set to consult members over the offer later this month.

However, an online poll of more than 2,000 NT readers found that 71% did not want to accept the 8% offer, while 75% were unhappy with the idea of a multi-year deal.

One respondent said: ‘With the way inflation is going, and with utility bills through the roof, it is not enough of a rise in real terms.’

‘The 8% sounds good but with the cost of everything else going up, in particular the cost of petrol, I feel we need more,’ said another

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