Students should be included in the vote on the proposed NHS pay deal – because it directly affects their future.
In March the Government, alongside healthcare unions, announced ‘modernisation’ of the Agenda for Change pay structure and revealed a radical overhaul of both the structure and terms and conditions of the pay system.
However, many have highlighted issues with the proposed pay deal.
The official recommendation from all unions, except the GMB, is that the deal should be accepted and unions are set to ballot their members later this month. But, only current NHS employees who are under an Agenda for Change contract will be included in the vote – this excludes the majority of healthcare students.
Student nurses alongside student radiographers, physiotherapists student and other allied healthcare professionals are the healthcare professionals of tomorrow and the proposed NHS pay deal will have a direct impact on their future.
As qualified professionals it is important we have our students on our side, students are united, numerous, have immense voting power and the ability to change the outcome of any vote.
The Royal College of Nursing has admitted it is ‘frustrating’ for those wanting to vote on their future, as currently, the only way for students to get involved is to ensure eligible members exercise their right to vote.
Katharine Youngs, Student RCN Trade Union Committee Member, said; “I know that not being able to vote in the consultation is very frustrating – especially if you know that you want to work in the NHS when you qualify.
“But the deal proposes changes to current NHS contracts of employment, and not future contracts, so we cannot vote on something that doesn’t apply to us right now, in the same way that RCN members in the independent sector won’t be able to vote.
“As student members, we can still get involved in the consultation by spreading the word about the deal in our universities, and help both fellow students and NHS staff in our placements to understand the benefits we will experience in the future.
“You can encourage those RCN members working in your NHS placements to take part in the online consultation when it opens on 23 April. You can also attend the pay events around the country to hear more about the deal and ask any questions as well as visiting the RCN website for full details of the deal.
But, Richard Betley, a Student Nurse and RCN Member, disagreed with the official stance and feels that students need to be actively involved; “As paying members of the RCN, students should be included in any votes which directly affect their future. The pay deal is structured over a 3 year period so any student currently studying nursing will qualify during this period.