RCN criticises Health Secretary over negotiating stance in nursing dispute

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has hit out at the Health Secretary, accusing him of “showing no sign” of wanting to properly negotiate on pay.

On Sunday, Steve Barclay insisted that his “door is open” and that he had been meeting with trade unions in recent days.

He told the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg programme: “We have been talking to them and, as you say, it’s not simply about pay.

“On pay, we’ve accepted in full the independent pay review body’s recommendations, that’s a minimum of a £1,400 increase.

“We have listened, we have respected in full the independent pay review body’s recommendations where they look at these issues in the round.”

Earlier this week, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) called for “detailed negotiations” on pay in the next five days or it will announce strike dates for December.

The union is calling for a pay rise of 5% above inflation, saying that despite a pay rise earlier this year experienced nurses were worse off by 20% due to successive below-inflation awards since 2010.

On Sunday, RCN general secretary Pat Cullen said: “The Health Secretary’s lack of intention and inability to see the urgency of this situation will trouble every nurse.”

She said he “showed no signs” of intending to come to the negotiating table for “detailed, formal discussions”.

“He has finally admitted what we’ve been saying about years of neglect, underinvestment and, as a result, underperformance, but that is not enough.

“This is a key week for health and care. We need ministers to be bold and adopt a radical new position with serious investment in nursing, including fair pay.”