• RCN bulletin before the vote told members they would see a 3 per cent pay rise in the first year
  • The union later confirmed this was not the case and staff would receive 1.5 per cent in August until they reach their incremental date
  • Petition launched calling for emergency general meeting and new RCN leadership
  • NHS Employers says RCN must “review all communications” 

HSJ can reveal today that the chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing promised members they would get an uplift of 3 per cent, but documents from when the deal was originally agreed show this was never going to be the case.

According to an RCN bulletin published in May, RCN chief executive Janet Davies said: “We now have a deal that not only sees all NHS nursing staff in England get a pay rise – at least 3 per cent in the first year – but that improves the pay structure so staff can advance quicker and earn more for their increased skills.”

However, yesterday Ms Davies wrote to members personally apologising as “the deal was not as straightforward as we said”.

A questions and answer section of NHS Employers website published when the deal was agreed makes clear that staff not at the top of their band would get only 1.5 per cent pay up lift followed by their increment uplift. It states that the date for the increment uplift would remain the same meaning staff who have increments later in the year will receive a total pay uplift of less than the 3 per cent promised by the RCN.

NHS Employers chief executive Danny Mortimer told HSJ the RCN had advised its members “in error.”

The RCN confirmed on its website last week that backdated pay covering April to July, and any incremental increase in that period, would be paid in August.

Josie Irwin, RCN associate director of employment relations and chief negotiator, said: “It was anticipated that all staff would receive the 3 per cent in July.

“While staff on the top of their band (50 per cent of staff) will get the 3 per cent immediately, the initial July increase for most other staff will be less than 3 per cent (typically 1.5 per cent) until they reach their incremental date,” Ms Irwin said in the online statement.

An RCN spokesman told HSJ: “Despite some delays to payments, over the three years the deal has to run, members will receive the full amount promised.

“We are sorry for any confusion caused about what members were due to receive this month,” he added.

He confirmed the RCN’s elected council will meet next week to discuss calls for an EGM, and to consider any new information “that clears up this confusion”.

Responding to the RCN’s letter Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers, said: “The letter states that the RCN has in error told members in one of its documents that they would all receive ‘a 3 per cent uplift this summer’.”

“The framework agreement, which is the document agreed by the NHS Staff Council that the RCN consulted its members on, does not make this claim,” Mr Mortimer said.

He added: “This miscommunication is very unfortunate and clearly the RCN will need to review all of its communications to understand the extent of its error.”

“We hope that this issue between the RCN and its membership can be resolved quickly, and we would direct colleagues towards the information on our website which makes clear the pay journeys for different staff over the next three years,” Mr Mortimer said.

A petition was launched by a group of RCN members yesterday in which they say they felt “misled” by their union and call for its leaders to stand down.

“It has come to our attention after the vote closed, that those not at the top of their band will get on average 1.5 per cent until their incremental date,” said the petition.

Under the RCN constitution, the group will need to gather 1,000 signatures for an emergency meeting to take place.

Unison head of health and chair of the staff side council, Sara Gorton said: “The lowest paid NHS employees in England are getting a £2,000 pay rise this month. Staff at the top of their bands, more than half the NHS workforce, will receive 3 per cent this year. For their colleagues who are mid or bottom of their salary scales, the level of increase this year depends on their individual circumstances, including when they started working for the NHS.

“This is a complex pay deal because it combines a cost of living rise with major structural reform of NHS pay systems. That’s why when the offer was put to staff, they were referred to the pay calculator so they could see exactly what it meant for them. Over the three years, the deal means a significant boost to the wages of all NHS staff, which will see everyone better off. 

“Unison material on the pay offer, and that published jointly by the health unions, clearly differentiated between what would happen for staff at the top of bands, and those below. Staff voted overwhelmingly to accept the deal last month – we now need to get on and make sure they get what they are entitled to.”