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A MONTH-LONG consultation on the government’s 3 per cent pay offer to NHS staff could be the first step towards industrial action, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) warned today.
Nurses nationwide are taking part in a “summer of action” to campaign for a fully funded 12.5 per cent rise.
Earlier this year, the union declared that it had a £35 million industrial action fund. It is is already in dispute with NHS Scotland, having rejected a 4 per cent offer.
RCN general secretary Pat Cullen called on nurses to “speak up for patients” and said: “With the NHS facing massive waiting lists and recovery pressures, investing in the workforce is the only way to retain the experienced nursing staff health services cannot afford to lose with such a challenge ahead.”
The union’s England director Patricia Marquis added: “Ministers talk of more investment in services to reduce these huge waiting lists, but are at the same time imposing a real-terms pay cut on the nursing staff needed to run them safely.
“Unless the government shows it values nursing staff’s skill, experience and expertise by delivering a significant pay rise, it risks a mass exodus from the profession.”
The GMB, which has already rejected 3 per cent, called today for workers across the NHS to unite against the “derisory” offer.
The union, which is pushing for a 15 per cent increase to make up for a decade of real-terms pay cuts, argued that outsourced workers have been the hardest hit and are likely to receive nothing.
Members will stage lunchtime demonstrations from 2pm at hospitals across the union’s southern region next Tuesday.
GMB organiser Helen O’Connor said: “Our members are concerned that the strategy to continue to drive down pay is railroading experienced staff out of the health service and this has serious and potentially deadly consequences for patient care.
“Our outsourced hospital workers are increasingly unlikely to get any pay rise at all, which is the hidden scandal in all of this.
“A winter of discontent is building within the NHS and the GMB union will robustly fight deteriorating pay, terms and conditions of our NHS members.”
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