FEBRUARY 22, 2023

By Harry Mottram: Next week’s planned industrial action by nurses in Bath has been put on hold after it emerged the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) were to hold talks over pay and conditions with the health secretary Steve Barclay. Walk outs had been planned for next Wednesday and Thursday across the country with nurses in A&E and intensive care joining the strike for the first time. Clearly the pressure on the Government has worked as the RCN had been calling for talks since last year to resolve the issue of pay falling behind the rate of inflation along with increased stress due to staff leaving the profession.

With junior doctors also considering strike action plus teachers, lecturers, postal workers, railway workers and civil servants all in process of a series of disputes the received wisdom is that the health secretary may have decided the nurses are a special case. That is in part many feel because there is widespread public support for nurses.

In a joint statement from the Department of Health and Social Care and the Royal College of Nursing regarding ongoing pay talks it was noted: “The Government and Royal College of Nursing have agreed to enter a process of intensive talks. Both sides are committed to finding a fair and reasonable settlement that recognises the vital role that nurses and nursing play in the National Health Service and the wider economic pressures facing the United Kingdom and the Prime Minister’s priority to halve inflation. The talks will focus on pay, terms and conditions, and productivity enhancing reforms.

“The Health Secretary will meet with the Royal College of Nursing on Wednesday to begin talks. The Royal College of Nursing will pause strike action during these talks.”

There have been reports in the media that other health care trade unions will not be involved in the talks leading to fears the Government wishes to divide the various unions in their policy of keeping inflation down. Currently inflation is at more than 10% and the Government sees halving inflation as its number one priority.

The photo is from the RCN of nurses in Birmingham taking strike action

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