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RCN to look into claims that it has 'misrepresented' NHS pay deal


The Royal College of Nursing’s leader has said the organisation will look into concerns about the way the NHS pay deal has been communicated to its members, following claims that the union has “misrepresented” the offer.

At the union’s annual congress in Belfast on Sunday, nurses accused the RCN of explaining the proposed pay deal in a way that suggested staff could receive far higher wage rises than would be on offer to most.

“When it first came out that we were now getting a 29% rise, 50% of this country think I’m about to buy a yacht”

Danielle Tiplady

They said the RCN’s claim that some nurses could receive around a 25% increase in wages under the three-year deal was down to staff moving through their pay band and receiving annual wage increments, an element within the Agenda for Change pay system previously designed to reflect progression within a role.

In the past, incremental wage increases had not been included in pay deal negotiations with the government – and the union had also argued they were not to be considered pay rises, claimed nurses speaking at congress.

The proposed three-year offer includes a 6.5% pay rise for almost all nurses and other NHS staff on Agnda for Change contracts.

But the negotiations have also included reforms that mean it will take less time to move through increments within a pay band.

Health unions said this would result in some staff receiving up to a 29% rise over the period, with the RCN referring to the example of a registered nurse three years into their career – earning around £24,500 – who would be over £6,000 a year better off by 2020-21.

Nurse and campaigner Danielle Tiplady told RCN delegates at the event: “When it first came out that we were now getting a 29% rise, 50% of this country think I’m about to buy a yacht.

“I expect this from the government but I don’t expect this from my union,” said Ms Tiplady from the RCN Inner North East London branch.

“Increments are now included as pay rises and all last year we argued they weren’t. Good luck with arguing with any future government that they are not a pay rise, because it will never wash again,” she said.

Edinburgh-based nurse Geoff Earl claimed the deal negotiated by the RCN was not based on the union’s original campaign – which had called for a 3.9% annual increase and £800 lump sum to make up for the government’s decision to hold public sector salaries down in recent years.

He also said many nurses were angry about the “misrepresentation” of the deal now on offer. In addition, he claimed that he and others had been labelled “deluded” by senior RCN staff for opposing the deal.

“We got agreement there would be an end to the pay gap. We said….we were now going to move to a 3.9% increase plus £800,” said Mr Earl.

“That was what we submitted to the pay review body and suddenly the RCN goes quiet and the next we know, it is linked to Agenda for Change – well who said that was going to happen? When were we ever consulted on that?,” he said.

“It’s not just about the deal that has angered so many of us activists – what has angered us is the misrepresentation of this deal, the way this has been sold to members,” he added, to a round of applause.

Concerns about coercion by the RCN were also raised by nurse Christina Sosseh, who said the union had circulated information to members suggesting if they did not vote in favour of the deal, the government may return to its previous 1% cap on annual pay rises.

“I was quite concerned about some of the information…there was a sentence about if we don’t accept this we might get 1%. That sentence, which is on paperwork and emails, is coercing us into making a decision to vote for this pay award,” she added.

RCN chief executive and general secretary Janet Davies later said the union would look at concerns raised during the debate on pay.

“Each individual person has translated this in their way. So we’ll need to look at what their concerns are”

Janet Davies

When asked by Nursing Times whether the RCN accepted criticism it had misrepresented the pay deal, she said: “I don’t know, we’d have to see what that was.

“I think that is people’s perceptions and everybody has got their own right to have their own views,” said Ms Davies.

“The big thing about the debate is that it is really important people can explain to us what their concerns are so we can rectify them, talk to them to see what they’ve understood by something, or what they’ve misunderstood,” she said.

She later added: “Each individual person has translated this in their way. So we’ll need to look at what their concerns are.”

In reference to claims that senior RCN staff had accused campaigners of being “deluded”, she said the union would also “have to look at that”.


Readers' comments (10)

  • So the unions managed to negotiate 6.5% over 3 years.
    We were going to get 3% anyway.

    Of the 3.5 % left we will pay about 30% of it straight back in tax and NI. So that leaves about 2.5% net over 3 years.

    With 1 in 9 nursing posts vacant and national shortage of specialities.
    I would have been happier if they had sent some children to negotiate on our behalf. What a bunch of useless overpaid ******.

    tfl staff got an average 3.2 per cent increase in 2016/17

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  • Not sure what the Chief Exec of RCN means by “they all interpreted this in their own way”? It’s an insult to professional nurses. RCN either said that increments are included in pay rise or not. And if RCN said they won’t that’s not matter of individual interpretation if you are now including them but rather either RCN lied or it is incompetent. If RCN made promise increments for band progression will not be included in rise then they should not be included so straight forward that I’m not sure what is there to be looking into. I love this phrase it shows someone in charge does not know what’s going on and needs time to see way out of it!

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  • The RCN have let us down. Now perhaps it’s time for this negotiating committee to step down. Never to be trusted again

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  • Welll Ms Davies- It’s MY PERCEPTION and MY VIEW - you have misled your members,
    You have done nothing to secure the future of the profession. This deal will not encourage new people in and will certainly not encourage your longest and most experienced members to stay.

    Perhaps it’s time for you to reflect on your future

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  • Dear Janet, Josie Irwin very clearly said in a video taped blog published on the RCN Facebook page and reported in the national press that 'members who wish to aggressively reject the NHS pay deal are deluded and unrealistic about the alternatives'.
    And we didn't 'interpret' anything in our own way. It's basic maths! As we are all capable of complex drug calculations, we are definitely able to see how poor this offer is, and work out for ourselves how little extra money there will be in our pay packets. Increments cannot be included as a pay rise, they are a mark of progression in the field that we work in, acknowledgement and recognition of our increasing skills and knowledge. To allege that junior nurses will reach the top of their bands sooner is ludicrous when you don't even know what conditions will be imposed by trusts on the criteria required to achieve that point. And isn't it fact that there will be, under this deal, a longer wait for each incremental point? Despite the increase in tax free allowance as of April, I took home less at the end of that month than in March. much flouted 3% that I'll supposedly get will, once NI, Tax and increase in pension contributions are taken into account, mean that I still have less money in my pay packet than each month last year, so please explain to me how you consider that a pay rise?

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  • This deal does not take account of the fact there has been significant changes in pension contributions bands, which all of the staff I work with were unaware of. This has resulted in significant reduciton in pay. This pay deal will not help make up for this sudden drop in earnings, and does not help the most experienced staff who are the top of their pay band.

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  • We can't even trust those who are supposed to be our advocates and champions. I advise anyone who asks to stay out of nursing, and have done so for years.

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  • After NI increases. Pension increases, little or no pay increases, trust changes in shift patterns to reduce unsociable hours I take home less now than 5 years ago . Being on top of band for all that . Everything else has increased so I am simply so much worse off now . Just get use a decent straight forward pay deal that is fair and more than the increases in the NI and pension . But pigs will fly before you lot have the b*lls to get that.

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  • I have been looking to leave private health care/agency work but I can't afford the severe drop in wages to go back to NHS work. I thought a union was to support the staff who pay YOUR wages not to bully them to accept the governments rubbish offers?

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  • Isn't this a bit like getting a fraudster to investigate himself?

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