Midwives have voted to accept the government’s latest NHS pay offer that would see the majority of nursing and midwifery staff in England receive a 1% pay rise from April.
More than 93% of members from the Royal College of Midwives who voted have agreed to the deal, which would ensure all staff that currently earn up to £56,504 receive a 1% consolidated uplift for 2015-16.
Around 45% of the union’s 23,000 members who were balloted took part in the vote.
Other NHS unions, including Unison, Unite and the Royal College of Nursing are still yet to reveal the results of their ballot before a decision can be made on whether the pay deal will come into effect.
Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the RCM, said: “I am pleased that our members voted in favour of accepting the offer. This is the best that could be achieved by negotiations and we achieved significant improvements following our campaign and industrial action and in the negotiations.
“Midwives are caring people who work long hours to give excellent care to women and their babies, often working beyond their shift and through their breaks. Even during our industrial action midwives have maintained safety for women and their families,” she said. “They deserve to be valued by government and employers.”
She added: “We will wait for the results of the consultations from other NHS trade unions but hope that now we have agreements in Scotland and Wales and an offer in England, we can achieve the same in Northern Ireland.”
The government put forward a renewed pay offer for all NHS staff in England last month, causing unions to suspend a planned 12-hour strike in order to consult members on the proposals.
The move followed two four-hour strikes held in the autumn. On 13 October, RCM members went on strike for the first time in their union’s 133-year history, saying that “enough is enough” and that midwives deserved fair pay. It was followed up by further strike action on 24 November.
The offer is for a 1% pay rise for all staff up to band 8B on the Agenda for Change pay framework, with an additional £200 consolidated payment for lower paid staff on pay points 3-8.
However, staff earning more than £40,558 would not receive an increment rise in April this year.
According to the Department of Health these changes would mean the deal will not increase the NHS pay bill in 2015-16. It said this has enabled it to make the 1% pay offer.
Negotiations also resulted in a commitment from the government to the NHS Pay Review Body, which would in the future continue to make recommendations on pay for NHS staff from 2016 onwards.
At the time the pay offer was announced, unions warned that some senior nursing and midwifery staff were expected to be disappointed with the proposals because it meant this group would see their salary frozen.
They said that while the latest offer included significant improvements to previous offers made by the government, it was not sustainable in the long term.
In the RCM’s recent strike ballot, 82.2% of respondents voted in favour of taking strike action and 94.6% in favour of action short of a strike.
The turnout was 49.4%, which was significantly higher than other unions achieved.