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NHS says end to strike threat is ‘huge relief’

NHS Staff Council agrees to accept government’s pay offer for workers in England

Louise Prime

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

NHS Employers have welcomed yesterday’s decision by health workers’ unions to end their threat of industrial action in England. They said it was a ‘huge relief’ for employers and patients alike, and would allow ‘crucial’ discussions to begin, about better services and more efficient use of NHS funds.

The NHS Staff Council yesterday held its regular meeting between health unions and employers to seek constructive national agreements on pay terms and conditions, following weeks of balloting by the health unions on whether or not to take strike action. During the meeting it was agreed to accept the Government’s 1% pay offer, which will be implemented in England with effect from 1 April 2015.

NHS Employers chief executive Danny Mortimer said: “This will be a huge relief for NHS organisations and for the thousands of patients and staff who were disrupted by industrial action.

“Employers do understand the anxieties of staff and urgently want to discuss sustainable ways to move away from pay restraint. This end to industrial action means we are now in a position to start those crucial discussions. Any solution will need to support better, safer and more responsive services to patients and more efficient use of NHS resources.”

Last week, the Royal College of Nursing announced that 60% of its voting members who work in England, were in favour of accepting the Government’s pay offer proposed in January, with 40% against. Two days before, UNISON had said that 67% of its members working for the NHS in England who voted, wanted to accept the Government’s pay offer – but 32% voted to reject it and take further action.

UNISON’s head of health, Christina McAnea, said last week: “Our members have voted to accept this offer. Although it does not go far enough, it is an improvement and it will make a difference particularly to over 250,000 of the lowest-paid in the NHS.”

But she warned: “By ignoring the recommendations of the NHS Pay Review Body for England, the government forced health workers to take strike action over pay for the first time in 34 years ...

“NHS workers will not sit back and do nothing when their standard of living is attacked. We are calling on any government elected in May to develop a pay strategy that rewards health workers fairly for the demanding jobs they do, and ensures the NHS can continue to recruit and retain a high quality workforce.

“The current state of pay in the NHS means many workers rely on unsocial hours payments to make ends meet. We know this government wants to cut these. The industrial action over the last six months should be a warning to ministers that our members will not accept further cuts.”

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