The Royal College of Nursing has “delayed” its industrial strike action ballot over nurse pay following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, it has been announced.
In an email to members today, the RCN said: “Out of respect, the NHS pay ballot due to open next week will be delayed and campaigning should pause until further notice.”
The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral on Thursday afternoon, aged 96.
The nursing profession and those throughout health and care services have paid tribute to Her Majesty and have recognised the way she “tirelessly championed nurses and nursing issues” during her 70-year reign.
The Royal College of Nursing was due to begin balloting its members across the UK over the government’s pay awards for 2022-23 next week.
The 2022-23 pay deals for NHS staff on Agenda for Change have fallen below the inflation-busting pay increases for which unions, including the RCN, have been campaigning.
In England and Wales, a pay increase of at least £1,400 was awarded, in line with the NHS Pay Review Body’s recommendations.
In Northern Ireland, the lack of a fully functioning government means nurses are still waiting for an official pay outcome. Northern Ireland’s health minister had announced his intention to accept the recommended £1,400 uplift but was unable to implement it immediately because of budget issues.
In Scotland, which has broken away from the pay review body process, a 5% increase was put forward for nurses.
The RCN’s ballot was due to open on 15 September and close on 13 October 2022.
In an exclusive interview with Nursing Times last month, RCN chief executive and general secretary Pat Cullen said she was confident industrial action would be voted for.
Nursing Times has approached other unions due to be holding ballots this autumn for their position.