The health and social care secretary is reportedly planning on fast-tracking a pay rise for nurses next year in an effort to prevent further strike action.
Steve Barclay said yesterday that NHS workers should “look forward” to the pay award next year instead of focusing on challenging this year’s below-inflation deal.
“Only by working together can we find an end to this”
Royal College of Nursing spokesperson
The Daily Telegraph reported today that a source close to Mr Barclay said the health secretary would seek to make sure next year’s pay increase comes “at the earliest opportunity” in the financial year.
In recent years, NHS pay rises have needed to be backdated to April due to delays in agreement and implementation by governments.
The 2023-24 pay round is already underway, with recommendations to come from the NHS Pay Review Body in due course.
“Steve is very keen for this to go ahead at pace and not be dragged out as it has been in the past,” said the source quoted in The Telegraph.
This comes as unions, including the Royal College of Nursing, have hosted a series of strikes across England, Wales and Northern Ireland this month in an ongoing dispute over the pay awards for 2022-23.
Meanwhile, RCN members in Scotland voted yesterday to reject a revised pay offer put forward by the government there for this year.
New year strike dates are expected to be announced by the college at the end of this week unless the government opens negotiations on pay.
The RCN has made clear that its dispute relates to the current year and that concerns about the 2022-23 pay award need to be addressed before focus turns to next year.
A college spokesperson said: “Start negotiations and we will find something to put out to our members – only by working together can we find an end to this.”
The pay round for 2023-24 was formally launched by Mr Barclay last month, and he asked the NHS Pay Review Body to consider factors such as the country’s debt and inflation when making the pay recommendation.
The RCN is expected to set out next year its views on the pay award nurses should receive in 2023-24.
The Department of Health and Social Care was contacted for comment.