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RCN leader to send members personal apology over pay ‘dismay’


The chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing is set to issue a personal apology to members over concerns the NHS pay deal was not properly explained to staff.

The unprecedented step follows widespread anger and dismay after many nurses discovered they would be getting much less in their wage packets than expected.

“In good faith, we told all members that they would receive a 3% uplift this summer”

Janet Davies

All members were told they would get a 3% per pay rise this summer but it now turns out this is not the case with only half getting the rise straight away.

The rest will receive an average increase of around 1.5% with more to come on their incremental date – which could be as many as 11 months down the line.

RCN chief executive and general secretary Janet Davies is due to send members an apology tonight, saying the information on the pay deal had been communicated to members “in good faith”.

She revealed the way the pay deal would work in practice had only come to her attention very recently and she was “as dismayed and angry as you are”.

“It has come to my attention in the last 24 hours that the deal was not as straightforward as we said and for that I offer you a sincere personal apology,” she wrote.

“I’m as dismayed and angry as you are and will fight the corner of members at every turn,” she said in the letter shared with Nursing Times.

“In good faith, we told all members that they would receive a 3% uplift this summer,” she said. “I now find that this is not the case for everyone.”

Ms Davies went on to assure members that she would be “demanding answers”. “In the meantime, I can only apologise for this unnecessary confusion and assure you that I am determined to resolve it,” she added.

“Your elected council and trade union committee will be meeting in the next few days and I will update you on next steps,” she said.

However, NHS Employers, the organisation that negotiated the pay deal on behalf of the government, questioned the union’s new position.  

Danny Mortimer, NHS Employers chief executive, said: “I am disappointed by this communication and surprised as no concerns were raised with us.

“Whilst I do not recognise the account Ms Davies presents, clearly if there are concerns we will work with the RCN and all the NHS’ trade unions to resolve them,” he said.

In May, at RCN congress, the union’s leadership said it would look into earlier concerns about the way the NHS pay deal has been communicated to its members, following claims that the union has “misrepresented” the offer.

“This is a complex pay deal because it combines a cost of living rise with major structural reform”

Sara Gorton

Unison head of health Sara Gorton said: “The lowest paid NHS employees in England are getting a £2,000 pay rise this month. Staff at the top of their bands, more than half the NHS workforce, will receive 3% this year.

“For their colleagues who are mid or bottom of their salary scales, the level of increase this year depends on their individual circumstances, including when they started working for the NHS,” she noted.

“This is a complex pay deal because it combines a cost of living rise with major structural reform of NHS pay systems,” she said. ”That’s why when the offer was put to staff, they were referred to the pay calculator so they could see exactly what it meant for them.

Ms Gorton, who is also chair of the union staff-side council, highlighted that, over the three years, the deal would mean a “significant boost to the wages of all NHS staff, which will see everyone better off”.

She added: “Unison’s material on the pay offer, and that published jointly by the health unions, clearly differentiated between what would happen for staff at the top of bands, and those below. Staff voted overwhelmingly to accept the deal last month – we now need to get on and make sure they get what they are entitled to.”


Readers' comments (4)

  • I said when the deal was announced that the negotiating team should resign. My position remains the same. The only communication we need from Ms Davis and her team are their resignation letters

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  • Lat not acceptable for m&s Davies to say she didn't know the detail until now! This has been the single most talked about issue for the registrants
    Shame on you ms Davies shows us what you think of the plight of thousands of nursing staff struggling to make ends meet.

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  • If you can't negotiate a pay deal and nail down the details then you shouldn't be doing it. The nursing unions are a joke, which is why nurses have reached the point where 12+ hr shifts are standard, bullying is standard, breaks are a memory, and nurses are leaving the profession in droves.

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  • Apologies don't cut it. We want action and some tough negotiators, not supine agreement monkeys. Bloody well fight for us, we pay you lot very well. Earn your inflated salaries.

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