The Royal College of Nursing has vowed to keep fighting for fair pay but says it has ruled out industrial action at this stage.
In a statement on their website, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) admits healthcare staff need a meaningful pay rise and claims it will provide a "robust response" but admits they have ruled out balloting on industrial action at this stage.
This news follows an open letter to the union from members which criticised the 'overly-positive' response to the announcement of agenda for change modernisation.
Earlier this week Jeremy Hunt wrote to the independent NHS pay review body confirming that the cap has been lifted but went on to say that any pay increase should be in return for improvements in productivity - but the union has insisted that unsociable hours payments must not be touched.
Janet Davies, Royal College of Nursing Chief Executive and General Secretary, said:
“Nursing staff need a meaningful pay award. They cannot continue to put up with the year-on-year erosion in pay they’ve endured for the last few years, adding up to a 14% pay cut in real terms since 2010. More and more nursing staff are struggling to pay their bills or even to put food on the table for their families, and increased pay is vital so that existing staff stay, and the health service is able to begin to fill the tens of thousands of nursing vacancies.
“The link between pay and productivity improvements is a concern. Nursing staff cannot be stretched any further. The NHS would grind to a halt without all the extra hours they already work. Nurses should not be expected in effect to fund their own pay rise. A fair pay rise is vital not just for nursing staff, but for patients and the NHS as a whole.
“We will engage in talks with NHS Employers about the Agenda for Change contract, and welcome the fact that the Health Secretary has confirmed the independence of the Pay Review Body.
“We are concerned about the lack of clarity about the pay award in Northern Ireland, where nursing staff have not yet had a pay increase for 2017/18. In the absence of an Assembly or Direct Rule Minister, we call for urgent clarification about how a decision will be reached on the Northern Ireland pay round.“
The NHS pay review body is expected to make its recommendation to the Government in spring.
Once the pay award for the year ahead will then be announced and RCN Council will consult members on next steps.
However, the union admits that all options, including balloting on industrial action, remain on the table should discussions be futile.