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Nurses are getting ‘fair’ pay rise says Barclay, as strike dates announced

  • Politics

By staff

Health secretary Steve Barclay has said nurses have been offered a ‘fair pay rise’ this year, following news that nurses are to hold two days of strike action next month. 

In a tweet on Friday morning, Mr Barclay said, “We have accepted the recommendations of the independent NHS Pay Review Body to give nurses a fair pay rise of at least £1,400 this year. This means a newly qualified nurse will typically earn over £31,000 a year.

“[The Royal College of Nursing (RCN)] is demanding a massive pay rise of 17.6% – an increase around three times the average settlement that millions of hardworking people outside the public sector are getting”, he continued. 

The RCN has said that the £1,400 figure is belied by the fact that experienced nurses are worse off by 20% in real terms due to successive below-inflation awards since 2010.

The union has now announced that its members will stage their first ever national walk out on the 15th and 20th December. The strikes will last 12 hours.

This comes after its offer of negotiations as an alternative to industrial action was turned down by the government. 

The strikes will take place in England, Wales and Northern Ireland in what is a significant escalation of the ongoing pay row.

In Scotland, the RCN has paused announcing strike action after the Scottish government reopened NHS pay negotiations.

RCN General Secretary Pat Cullen said: “Ministers have had more than two weeks since we confirmed that our members felt such injustice that they would strike for the first time.

“My offer of formal negotiations was declined and, instead, ministers have chosen strike action. They have the power and the means to stop this by opening serious talks that address our dispute.

“Nursing staff have had enough of being taken for granted, enough of low pay and unsafe staffing levels, enough of not being able to give our patients the care they deserve.”

Wes Streeting, shadow health secretary, said: “Why on Earth is the Health Secretary refusing to negotiate with nurses? Patients already can’t get treated on time, strike action is the last thing they need, yet the Government is letting this happen. Patients will never forgive the Conservatives for this negligence.