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Nurse and midwife strike action suspended after new pay offer


NHS trade unions have suspended a 12 hour strike on Thursday, after the government appeared to give in to union demands offering a 1% pay rise to NHS staff.

Unions, including Unison, Unite, the Royal College of Midwives and the GMB, will now consult members over the offer, which follows several meetings with Department of Health officials and health secretary Jeremy Hunt.

The offer is for a consolidated, or pensionable, 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.

In a letter of offer to NHS trade unions, health secretary Jeremy Hunt said the pay offer would apply to 1.1m staff under Agenda for Change.

The Department of Health said it had also negotiated that staff earning more than £40,558 will not receive an increment rise in April this year.

It has also agreed to hold talks over a possible redundancy cap for those staff leaving the NHS from April 2015 which would effectively cap redundancy payments to a maximum of £160,000.

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.

The offer also includes a commitment from the government to the NHS Pay Review Body to continue to make future recommendations on pay uplift for NHS staff in 2016-17.

Unions held two four-hour strikes last year after the government rejected the review body’s recommendation of a 1% pay increase, claiming it would lead to nursing staff redundancies.

Union members had been due to escalate their protests in England and Northern Ireland with a 24-hour strike on Thursday. They had also been planning to work to rule between 30 January and 24 February, followed by a second 24-hour strike on 25 February.

“This isn’t a great offer but it addresses some of the key concerns unions have about low pay in the NHS”

Christina McAnea

Unsion head of health and lead negotiator, Christina McAnea said: “The two strike days staged by health workers last year have moved the government to negotiate with the unions.

“This isn’t a great offer but it addresses some of the key concerns unions have about low pay in the NHS. In the interest of patients’ safety unions will now consult members,” she said.

“It will be up to members to decide whether to accept or reject the proposals. If they choose to reject them we will move to further industrial action,” she added.



The Royal College of Midwives has confirmed it will suspend industrial action and recommend members accept the offer.

Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives, said: “I am pleased the government came to the negotiating table to seek a solution.

“I believe this offer represents the best that can be achieved by negotiations and we will consult with members in England,” she said.

Meanwhile, GMB national officer Rehana Azam said: “GMB is pleased that after a week of talks we have secured a new offer.

“This enables us to suspend the strike action while we consult with our members on whether they wish to accept the offer or not,” she added.

Danny Mortimer, chief executive of the NHS Employers said he was “delighted” Thursday’s strike had been called off saying: “It is the right decision for patients and puts us all in a better position to start talking about long-term solutions.

“If the unions proceed to fully accept the proposed pay agreement it will demonstrate a commitment and signal the start of a period of negotiations to deliver long term pay reform in the NHS,” he added.

The Royal College of Nursing, which chose not to ballot its members for industial action, also welcomed the offer and said its council would be considering the government’s proposals.

Unions and governments in Wales and Scotland have both previously reached agreement on NHS pay rises.


What do you think?

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Readers' comments (34)

  • We had a 1% non-consolidated pay rise last year, due another 1% on top this year (from April 2015). Does this mean, if accepted, next year we will go back down to 1%? The only difference is this will be consolidated i.e. pensionable pay and the 1% will be added to the pay scale. I don't see how this is much of a victory, other than it being consolidated. Am I missing something here?

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  • john warwick

    wow that will give me what 240 pounds more a year just enough to pay the rise in my NMC registration fee,

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  • but what about all the other things that NHS England want to do like take the unsocial pay off us, reduce holidays by two weeks, have a rolling rota. Or have these things been swept under the carpet to be brought in anyway because we are gullible to accept the 1% and forget the rest

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  • whoop whoop a whole 1% maybe, however the loss of unsocial hours pay, increased registration fees and hospital car parking (2nd year at 10%). I will really enjoy my pay cut. thanks HMG yu know how to kick someone when they are down. Now who shall I vote for in 99 days time.

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  • unions sell us out again, a whole 1% wow. thanks unions, thanks alot.

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  • If this 1%, previously recommended by the Pay Review Body, is 'the best that can be achieved by negotiations' and 'signal the start of a period of negotiations to deliver long term pay reform in the NHS' then I am even more worried about the future of the NHS.

    Just feels like this government could claim they listened, gave staff what they wanted and secured patients care. This should of happened when they got elected, not 100 days before the next election.

    It's not a 10% rise which would be more like what staff are worth, and that would secure the staff needed for safe patients care.

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  • From the previous comments, I know this point of view may not be the most favourable, but think of this as a victory! The industrial action was aimed at achieving just this and, with the sacrifice of a few caps on higher bands etc, it has succeeded. Did you really expect the unions to go in there demanding the 1% that had been recommended and the government turning around and saying "oh, I see your point. Here, have a 10% pay rise instead"?
    What this has proved is that by standing firm together, we have more power. The next time negotiations take place, there may be more than just a few of us stood on the picket lines giving up our pay while others just whinge about it. If we spread that belief among our colleagues, then we may be able to go for more next time. Plus all of the other issues that have been mentioned will now be negotiated from a much stronger position and therefore we are more likely to get a positive outcome.
    Stay positive! This may only be a minor victory, but it is a victory that sets a precedent.

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  • Strangely enough this has happened just a few months before the general election. Funny that! Cynical, me? Never!

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  • to anonymous 1033am

    its always the next time and hunt didn't say it was good for staff just the patients-sorry but we all have families and bills to pay this offer is crap-

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    Well done Lincoln - great show!

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  • We dont have to accept it. The least we should accept is that last years pay rise is consolidated.

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  • Don't be to overcome with excitement. Pay review body recommended 1%for current year and/ same for 2015\16. Stopping increments for higher paid , I read band 8c and above last night, this article suggests 8a . Could be thin edge of wedge in future pay awards .Current arguments is that top increment is correct rate for job. We work towards it. Same applies to 8a and above . I sense divide and conquer tactics are long term plans

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  • Yet another pay cut. Absolute insult, especially in an election year. Although no level would buy my vote, it is decidedly short sighted with staff haemorrhaging from wards and departments almost everywhere. Making people work longer is just making people leave earlier and leave the NHS or even the country.
    Unless there is a substantial rise very soon we will have inadequate numbers of staff available at any price, even stealing staff from the developing nations can only last so long.

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  • Wakes wakey! Don't think for one second this government is seriously going to give nurses a decent wage, for goodness sake.
    Think back to the time They were awarded a pay rise, and a tax cut, at the same time, wailing that You weren't worth any more than a pitiful 1%, and not everyone in the NHS received that offer.
    Don't be charmed by David Cameron's superficial promises. He is quite plainly ....a Liar.

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  • I agree with comments by anon 10:33am above -

    the unions only asked for 1% and acceptance of the pay review body recommendations, and this is what they got. The health minister saved face by not giving much away.

    The point is that industrial action has worked! Even though the RCN opted out but agrees to take the money!

    Imagine what could happen in the future if the unions manage to get organised. No whingeing, just action for the next round.

    That's what people need to learn.

    The next thing to oppose is govt proposals to interfere with the union ballots, so that a large number of eligible members have to vote.

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  • Forgot to add -as mentioned above.

    Health service workers have traditionally never got pay rises from conservative governments. Never ever.

    Though it's hard to know which party is which these days.

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  • Anonymous | 28-Jan-2015 8:53 am

    unions sell us out again, a whole 1% wow. thanks unions, thanks alot.

    Did you go out on strike on the previous occassions? I bet you didn't. Did you work to rule? I bet you didn't. Have you read the actual result - it appears you haven't. Unions are now discussing with their members the offer and whether we want to accept it or not.

    I stood on the picket lines with 9 other people out of a workforce of 4,000 and a union membership of just over a thousand. Where are you all - you moan when you don't get a rise but do nothing about it, you moan when we actually get a result, albeight a pathetic one, and then come on here and complain again.

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  • The never-ending question is today or tomorrow?
    Part of me says 1% is better than nothing - take it and run because that is all you'll get.
    However, most of me says - you are being sold down the river again - this is a fob off and when you account for all the other stuff that you have to shell out on - it's less than nothing % in my pocket.

    It seems very timely that the Tory government can say that they gave more to the Nurses, averted a strike and safeguarded patients at election time. Or am I just an old cynic?

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  • bob cat

    How do we think this sits right next to an 11% payrise?
    Do we think there is any whisper of hypocrisy here?
    Do we really imagine there is any realistic prospect of being taken care of as a valued resource?
    What is the underlying philosophy of the decision makers here?

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  • I must say am shocked and disgusted that nurses have gone on or threatened strike action, this is not the action of REAL nurses but the action of CAREER NURSES. Nurses are there to care for patients when they turn their backs on patients for more money they would be better off working in a firm doing paper work, peoples lives are at risk, once harm is done it cannot be undone, not rubbed out with an eraser. Whoever you are you should be ashamed.

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  • Linda Reynolds
    What else is there for ordinary hard working nurses to do we tried work to rule but still cannot leave on time. Nurses are not angels they are not any better than anyone else, we are humans just like everyone else and with the demand for more patient care and less nurses we are feeling the strain big time.
    We all must look after ourselves otherwise we will be no good for the job we have to do.
    Real Nurses are Real Humans.

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  • Dear Lynda Reynolds,

    Your thoughts and reasoning behind your comment are admirable in an ideal and utopian world. However the rest of us live in the real world with mouths to feed and bills to pay just the same as people who work in "firms doing paperwork". We all work hard under tremendous pressures and stress and are prepared to make sacrifices often financially, and in our personal lives to do a job we love. Unfortunately successive governments over the years have taken advantage of our ethos and we have arrived at the situation we have today, where people are pushed beyond the limit and reluctantly concluding that enough is enough.

    Yes people are leaving the profession and yes others will take their place. But ask yourself this question. If you were at the start of your working life with your hopes and dreams in front of you. Then having seen the state of things as they stand today for people working in the NHS, would you seriously consider devoting your whole working life to healthcare, or would you opt to work for the firm doing paperwork who attract, recruit, and retain their valued staff by order of remuneration?

    Ill leave you with this thought

    "our aim is to have a society where hard work is rewarded." David Cameron.

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  • The new starters are also leaving in droves, because the pay and working conditions are not attractive. They have degrees, so can choose what to do. The ongoing supply of workers from poverty-stricken countries with high unemployment will continue, but these people do not usually stay long and go back to their home countries.

    The underlying economic theory is that market forces rule. If people can be found to do the work on that pay, then why give them 11%?

    The workforce needs to mobilise; and the taxpayers will get what they are prepared to pay for. That is the reality of capitalism

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  • bob cat

    Linda Reynolds, with respect trying to shame people in such a condescending way will not help persuade to your cause. You are calling on the politics of division which is exactly what psychopaths love and thrive on, and helps no-one. It doesn't look after your colleagues and therefore doesn't look after patients so you end up doing exactly what you are accusing others of.
    A more collaborative approach might work better

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  • And the PCSO community police officers have just agreed a 2.2% pay rise through Unison. Again we're being given pittance. As a previous reader commented, just about cover the NMC registration fee this year!

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  • Linda Reynolds above must work for the Tory HQ propaganda department. Even 'REAL' nurses have to pay their mortgages and food bills and are entirely right to use the weapon of last resort - industrial action - when all negotiations have failed because of the intransigence of the government in refusing to implement the recommendations of an independent review panel. And as the husband of a nurse, knowing the pressures she's under every day, I'd say the 11% given to MPs would have been better given to nurses.

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  • ??COPD18 | 30-Jan-2015 7:12 pm

    wage payers, your employers, patients and the potential public service users are not interested in your mortgage. they pay you to do a job according to their rules and professional standards to care for the sick, what you choose to do with your wages is incidental.

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  • I think about the patients and not about politics, Politics are of no real interest to me, Patient care was and is all that interests me. Think about your loved ones and also yourselves being a patient , then think what would happen if thenurses were on strike. I have never agreed to strike action in principle, and I was nursing in the time when nurses were really underpaid and not like today, your wages are no where as low as when I was training and working in the seventies and eighties.In fact the wags are good today. Patient care was my prority so please dont tell me what I am. I know when was a single mother on low wages in the seventies ( and they were really low) I then would not strike, I trained as a nurse and the care of patients was my priority, it was hard then but I survived. I am glad that the money is better for you all now, but what they say is true, the more you have the more you want. Please consider the sick a bit more. I

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  • ¨...and if you looked after patients instead otherwise you may find yourselves out of a job, not missed, and unable to find another!!!!!!!

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  • All this 1% means is that what we had last year is just being consolidated; we are no further forward.

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  • George probert, you are spot on.

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  • Linda Reynolds, you are not.

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  • more importantly, I have just learned that the PM has cut the budget promised to improve nursing and provide them with new IT support to assist their work. I am unable to find any further news on this. please could anybody let me know the reasons behind his decision?

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  • Linda Reynolds - I too was nursing in the early 70s so I presume that you are around my age and retired or ready for retirement.
    Yes, wages are better now but that was achieved in 74 by nurses taking action before that we were on a pittance and I earned less than my younger sister doing 9-5 as an office junior. Now, at 59 she still earns more than I do -plus a company car, pension and free health insurance - for sitting at a desk and giving IT advice over the phone.
    In those times nurses were treated like doctor's handmaidens and we did not have the same responsibilities as we do today. Let's get over the 'Didn't we look pretty in our hats and sparkly buckles' memories and realise that nursing is a demanding profession that relies on the goodwill of us all to do the job well. Unless major change happens, when all the senior nurses have retired, the workforce will rely on graduates who will think 'I love this job - but I need to feed my family and I can earn as much, if not more working in an office'. 30 years ago I was offered a job out of nursing which I declined - I regret that so much. The last few years in this job have been hell with no consideration for my age or my declining health and strength.

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