Nurses could strike over 3% NHS pay rise, unions says

A Nurse with a placard outside the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) in Victoria Tower Gardens, London Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Nurses could strike over the offer of a 3% pay rise for NHS staff in England and Wales, a union leader has said.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said the pay rise was a “bitter blow” and the salary increase would be a cut once inflation was taken into account.

The “average nurse” will receive an additional £1,000 a year, while many porters and cleaners will get around £540.

Following the announcement on Wednesday night, Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted: “To recognise the extraordinary contribution they have made they are receiving a 3% pay rise this year.”

But Patricia Marquis, England director of the RCN, told BBC Two’s Newsnight the award left nurses feeling they were not “valued for what they do”.

She said the union would consult with its members, adding: “Once we have their view – which we suspect will be to say they are unhappy about the level – we will then be considering with them what the next steps might be, which could include consideration of industrial action most certainly.”

The 3% increase was recommended by an independent body and will be paid to the majority of NHS staff in England including nurses, paramedics, consultants, dentists and salaried GPs but does not cover doctors and dentists in training.

The Welsh Government has also agreed a 3% pay rise for NHS workers there. In Scotland, NHS workers have been awarded a 4% pay rise.

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “NHS staff are rightly receiving a pay rise this year despite the wider public sector pay pause, in recognition of their extraordinary efforts.

“We asked the independent pay review bodies for their recommendations and I’m pleased to accept them in full, with a 3% pay rise for all staff in scope, from doctors and nurses to paramedics and porters.”

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The RCN had been campaigning for a 12.5% pay increase and its general secretary Pat Cullen said: “When the Treasury expects inflation to be 3.7%, ministers are knowingly cutting pay for an experienced nurse by over £200 in real-terms.

“Nursing staff will remain dignified in responding to what will be a bitter blow to many.

“But the profession will not take this lying down. We will be consulting our members on what action they would like to take next.”