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Home » Nursing Union REJECTS 5% Pay Offer And Announces New Strike Dates

Nursing Union REJECTS 5% Pay Offer And Announces New Strike Dates

Nurses in England have rejected a pay deal put to them by ministers and have announced a fresh wave of strike action for later this month. 

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) confirmed that 54 per cent of balloted members voted to reject the deal, which was offered after the union launched a historic wave of industrial action this winter.

In the deal, which the union recommended to members, nurses would have received a 5 per cent pay rise this financial year plus a one-off bonus averaging 6 per cent.

The RCN, which today said the offer was ‘simply not enough’, announced its members would hold a 48-hour strike from 8pm on April 30 to 8pm on May 2.

Pat Cullen, chief executive of the union, said its nurses are ‘forced back to the picket line’ until there is a ‘significantly improved offer’. 

Unlike previous strikes by nurses, this action will be without any exemptions, meaning it will not provide staff to cover emergency, intensive or cancer care.

It comes after Unison, which represents hundreds of thousands of nurses, paramedics and hospital staff, confirmed its members in England had accepted the same pay offer. 

Pat Cullen (pictured: centre), the union’s general secretary and chief executive, said ‘After a historic vote to strike, our members expect a historic pay award’

The result means nurses will return to the picket line for 48-hours on April 30. Pictured RCN members during a previous strike on February 6

This means critical ‘life and limb’ care will be affected for the first time during a nurses strike in England.

This marks an escalation in the dispute with Government over pay and echoes the type of strike action currently underway by junior doctors. 

Mr Cullen said: ‘After a historic vote to strike, our members expect a historic pay award.’

The union had previously campaigned for a 18 per cent pay rise. 

The RCN’s compromise of 5 per cent attracted condemnation from portions of the college’s membership.

This upcoming strike action by the RCN is the last it can legally hold, as the union is only allowed to organise strikes within six months of its original industrial action ballot. 

But the union officials said they will organise another ballot of members in England so further strikes can take place. 

The news is a bitter blow to patients who have already had more than 350,000 appointments and operations cancelled due strikes by various NHS staff groups.  

It also opens the door to both nurses and junior doctors potentially striking at the same time, if the RCN and the British Medical Association (BMA) decide to coordinate action. 

In the letter to Health Secretary Steve Barclay, Ms Cullen said: ‘What has been offered to date is simply not enough. 

‘The Government needs to increase what has already been offered and we will be highly critical of any move to reduce it. 

‘Until there is a significantly improved offer, we are forced back to the picket line. Meetings alone are not sufficient to prevent strike action and I will require an improved offer as soon as possible.’

She urged Mr Barclay to meet to open negotiations as soon as possible.

The RCN has argued that an above inflation pay rise is needed to help nurses combat the cost of living crisis and stop staff leaving the NHS for better paying jobs in supermarkets or abroad. 

The union’s rejection threatens to blow a hole in Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s efforts to portray himself as the country’s ‘Fixer’.

He is relying on turning the tide on a daunting array of issues if the Tories are to have any chance of shutting out Labour at the general election, pencilled in for next Autumn.

He received a big boost last month when his new post-Brexit package for Northern Ireland sailed through the Commons with a minimal revolt by his own MPs.

However, although the victory cemented Mr Sunak’s control of his party, it has failed to convince the DUP to resume powersharing at Stormont.

Mr Sunak has made other key pledges on halving inflation – which has been staying stubbornly high – and stopping the Channel migrant boats. He has already seemingly watered down the timetable for the latter promise.

Settling the industrial action by nurses, who enjoy the strongest support from the UK public, was seen as a massive step towards stabilising the Government.

Continuing strikes will jeopardise Mr Sunak’s hopes of eradicating the huge treatment backlog after Covid and cutting waiting times.

It puts to end the dispute that saw tens of thousands of union members strike over the winter months, leading to mass disruption across the health service

With Labour’s poll lead still well into double-digits, Tories view improvements in the cost of living crisis and key public services as the only path to winning the election.

A Government spokesperson said the RCN ballot result is ‘hugely disappointing’.

They said: ‘Following constructive discussions, all parties agreed this was a fair and generous offer which is demonstrated by Unison, representing the largest share of the NHS workforce, choosing to accept it.

‘The fact that the Royal College of Nursing has announced an escalation in strike action with no derogations, based on a vote from the minority of the nursing workforce, will be hugely concerning for patients.

‘Hundreds of thousands of Agenda for Change staff continue to vote in ballots for other unions over the next two weeks and we hope this generous offer secures their support.’

NHS Providers director of communications Adam Brimelow called the RCN rejection ‘extremely worrying’.

He said: ‘It’s really important that the unions and Government find a way through this to prevent more strikes and let the NHS focus on its big challenges, including cutting waiting lists and transforming services, instead of having to resort to “all hands on deck” just to get through the day.’

The RCN rejection comes after Unison members in England, who include hundreds of thousands of paramedics, nurses and hospital staff, voted to accept the Government’s pay offer.

Three-quarters of balloted members accepted the sum, which amounts to a one-off bonus for last year and five per cent pay rise this year.

The Government said the result shows that the pay offer is ‘fair and reasonable’.

Sara Gorton, head of health at the union, said: ‘Clearly health workers would have wanted more, but this was the best that could be achieved through negotiation.

‘Over the past few weeks, health workers have weighed up what’s on offer. They’ve opted for the certainty of getting the extra cash in their pockets soon.

‘It’s a pity it took several months of strike action before the Government would commit to talks.

‘Unions told ministers last summer the £1,400 pay rise wasn’t enough to stop staff leaving the NHS, nor to prevent strikes. But they didn’t want to listen.’

She said NHS staff were ‘forced to strike’ and lost ‘money they could ill afford’, while the health service and patients ‘suffered months of unnecessary disruption’.

Ms Gorton urged the Government, which is still consulting with other unions representing healthcare staff, to ‘ensure NHS workers get the wage rises they’ve voted for at the earliest opportunity’.

She added: ‘This vote might end Unison’s dispute, but it doesn’t solve the wider staffing emergency affecting every part of the NHS. 

‘Now, the Government must work with unions to bring about a sustained programme of investment in the workforce.

‘Lessons must also be learned. The mistakes of the past few months cannot be repeated. It’s time for a whole new approach to setting pay across the NHS.’

The one-off payment for 2022/23 will see staff get between £1,655 and £3,789, depending on their pay.

This is equal to 8.2 per cent for the lowest paid and around 6 per cent for nurses and midwives.

It is in addition to the £1,400 NHS staff received for 2022/23 last September.

The 2023/24 wage rise is worth at least £1,065 and would raise the lowest hourly rate in the NHS in England to £11.45 an hour, or £22,383 a year.

A Government spokesperson said: ‘The decision by members of Unison, the largest NHS union, to accept the pay offer recommended by their leadership demonstrates that it is a fair and reasonable proposal that can bring this dispute to an end.

‘Under the offer, an Agenda for Change employee at the Band 6 entry point – such as a physiotherapist, paramedic or a midwife – will receive over £5,100 across last year and this year, with over £2,000 in bonus payments arriving as a lump sum in pay cheques by summer.

‘Hundreds of thousands of Agenda for Change staff continue to vote in ballots for other unions over the next two weeks and we hope this generous offer secures their support.’

Where will nurses strike on April 30?  The RCN has said the 48-hour, no exceptions walkout will be held at the following NHS workplaces in England.:

East Midlands 

Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Foundation Trust 

Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust 

East Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust 

Kettering General Hospital NHS Foundation Trust 

NHS Derby and Derbyshire ICB 

NHS Nottingham and Nottinghamshire ICB 

Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust 

Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust 

Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust 


Cambridge University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust 

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust 

Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust 

East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust 

Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust 

NHS Hertfordshire and West Essex ICB 

NHS Mid and South Essex ICB 

NHS Norfolk and Waveney ICB 

NHS Suffolk and North East Essex ICB 

Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust 

Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust 

Norfolk Community Health and Care 

NHS Trust Royal Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust 

West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust 


Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust

Guys and St Thomas NHS Foundation Trust 

Hounslow and Richmond Community Healthcare NHS Trust 

Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust 

Kings College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust 

NHS North Central London ICB 

NHS South West London ICB 

Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust 

St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust 

Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust 

University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust 

North West 

Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust 

Bridgewater Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust 

Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust 

Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust 

Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust 

Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital NHS Foundation Trust 

Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust 

Liverpool Women’s NHS Foundation Trust 

Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust 

Mid Cheshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust 

NHS Cheshire and Merseyside ICB 

NHS Lancashire and South Cumbria ICB 

North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust 

St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust 

Tameside and Glossop Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust 

The Christie NHS Foundation Trust 

The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre NHS Foundation Trust 

The Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust 

Wirral Community Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust 

Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust 

Wrightington Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust 


Country Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust 

Gateshead NHS Foundation Trust 

North of England Commissioning Support (NECS) 

North East Ambulance Service NHS Trust 

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust 

South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust 

The Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust 

University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust 

South East 

East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust 

Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust 

NHS Kent and Medway ICB 

NHS Surrey Heartlands ICB 

Queen Victoria Hospital NHS Foundation Trust 

South East Coast Ambulance Service 

Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust 

Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust 

University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust 

Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust 

Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust 

Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust 

Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust 

Solent NHS Trust 

South Central Ambulance Services NHS Foundation Trust 

Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust 

University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust 

South West 

Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust 

Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust 

Devon Partnership NHS Trust 

Dorset County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust 

Dorset Healthcare University NHS Foundation Trust 

Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust 

Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust 

Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust 

NHS Bath, North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire ICB 

NHS Devon ICB (One Devon) 

NHS Dorset ICB (One Dorset) 

NHS Gloucestershire ICB (One Gloucestershire) 

North Bristol NHS Trust 

Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust 

Royal Devon University Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust 

Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust 

Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust 

Somerset NHS Foundation Trust 

South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust 

Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust 

University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust 

University Hospitals Dorset NHS Foundation Trust 

University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust 

West Midlands 

Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust

Dudley Integrated Health and Care NHS Trust 

Herefordshire and Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust 

Midlands and Lancashire CSU 

Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust 

NHS Birmingham and Solihull ICB (BSol ICB) 

NHS Black Country ICB 

Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust 

The Royal Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Foundation Trust 

University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust 

Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust 

Yorkshire and the Humber 

Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust 

Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust 

Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust 

Leeds Community Healthcare NHS Trust 

NHS North West Yorkshire ICB 

Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust 

Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust 

Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust 

The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust 

York and Scarborough Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust 

National employers 

Health Education England 

NHS Blood and Transplant 

NHS England NHS Resolution