Nurses union slash pay demands in HALF after Sunak's tough stance

Health Secretary Steve Barclay says he is 'keen to have dialogue' with the union

Published

The boss of Britain’s nursing union has said she would consider a 10 percent pay rise, suggesting that they would meet the Government “halfway”.

The general secretary of the Royal College for Nursing (RCN), Pat Cullen, has previously said the union’s demand for a 19 percent rise, dismissed by the Government as “unaffordable”, is simply a “starting point”, and that she would put any new offer to her members.

Royal College for Nursing general secretary Pat Cullen
Royal College for Nursing general secretary Pat Cullen

Cullen said: “There is a rhetoric out there that says the Royal College of Nursing is unrealistic, it’s looking for something that’s totally unachievable, it’s looking for 19 percent.

“Now, I could sit here all day and tell you nurses’ pay has dropped by 20 percent over the last decade.

“Do I believe those nurses are entitled [to 19 percent]?

“Absolutely, I believe they’re entitled to 19 percent.

“But we also understand the economic climate that we’re working in.

“And what I would say to Steve Barclay and to the Prime Minister is get into a room and meet me halfway here and do the decent thing for these nurses.”

Thousands of nurses walked out on December 15 and 20, and the RCN has said its members will strike again on January 18 and 19 unless negotiations are opened.

The planned action would take place at more NHS employers in England than the previous strikes, increasing from 44 to 55 trusts, according to the RCN.

The union has also warned that strike action could continue over the next six months unless an agreement can be reached.

The Health Secretary has said he is “keen to have dialogue” with the nursing union, but remained coy on whether or not he would accept the compromise.

Health Secretary Steve Barclay
Health Secretary Steve Barclay

Speaking to the press, Barclay said: said: “I am keen to have dialogue with Pat Cullen and the RCN.

“I wrote to them last week looking at the coming year, at the pressures from inflation and the cost of living, how we could work together to make any settlement more affordable in terms of looking at what productivity opportunities there are, what efficiency opportunities there are.

“There is common ground in recognising the NHS is under pressure and we need to respond to that.

“I look forward to talking with the RCN and the other trade unions to see how we make any settlement done through the independent pay review body more affordable.”

Pressed again on whether 10% would be an acceptable pay rise, Mr Barclay said: “The RCN actually turned down an offer in Scotland which was 7.5 percent, and significantly more than 10 percent if you looked at the other things within that package.”

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