Your web browser is outdated and may be insecure

The RCN recommends using an updated browser such as Microsoft Edge or Google Chrome

Together, we’re striding towards fair pay for nursing

Pat Cullen 24 Feb 2023 Chief Executive and General Secretary

As intensive talks about NHS pay take place, Pat Cullen congratulates members on their achievements so far. 

Thank you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. You did this. I cannot express how proud I am of you and how grateful I am for your unswerving courage, tenacity, pure grit and determination. This is a key milestone.

For weeks, I’ve asked the government to meet me halfway. On Tuesday, after months of strike action from you, and inaction from the government, they agreed to hold formal and immediate talks.

We enter this phase with good faith, and strike action in England planned for next week is paused, just as happened in Scotland and Wales when serious negotiations commenced. We have been true to our word, and I very much hope the other side will be good to theirs as we take the next steps to securing a fair pay deal for you.

It was my pleasure to talk to many of you online shortly after the announcement was made; please watch the recording where I address some of the questions you may have. I pledge to do my best to answer every one of your questions; please read the emails we send you and keep visiting our strike hub for the latest information.

In the coming days and weeks, I urge you rely on the facts that I will share with you as this process unfolds, and ignore rumour and supposition. We must continue to stick together during the next steps just as we have to this point. I ask for your patience and your trust – which I will never take for granted and appreciate more than you know.

My position is clear – there is a process that must now be followed and only when I believe we have the best deal possible will that deal be put to you. Negotiations are, by their nature, challenging, but we are in a strong position to get the best for our profession and for our patients. No stone will be left unturned in our journey to get the right deal for you.

My gratitude also extends to every member of the public who supports our campaign; they know why we stood on picket lines, and they appreciate that this step towards a fair pay deal is a leap towards improved patient safety and an NHS that can continue delivering an exceptional level of care to them, their families and friends.

Colleagues, let me be frank: the road ahead will not be without its challenges, but we have made it this far and I would urge you to take a moment to reflect on the part you have had to play in this landmark moment for our profession. You can say you were there; you were part of something great. You held your nerve, and I promise you that I will do the same as I begin talks with the UK government. My eyes are wide open as I enter this next phase, and I will draw from your strength and courage in every conversation I have on your behalf.

You will always get to have your say on pay – as we are doing in Wales and Scotland - and the government in Westminster knows that future strike action in England remains a possibility if it cannot offer what you deserve.

Thank you once again for everything you have done to get to this significant point in our fight for fair pay and patient safety. I will, as always, keep you updated.

In Scotland we are preparing to open a member consultation on a new NHS pay offer. I am in no doubt that it was the strength of the RCN’s mandate for strike action that led to this new offer. You have shown the Scottish government that it must listen and act to protect our profession. The RCN Scotland Board has recommended that members accept the new pay offer, which includes a review of the Agenda for Change pay structure, because they believe it will make a positive difference for members. 

The announcement this week of a Ministerial Taskforce on Nursing and Midwifery is further evidence that the Scottish government has heard the RCN’s message that our action has never only been about pay but also about staffing for safe and effective care.

I am keeping a close eye on the UK government’s new anti-strike plans, which – if passed - introduce the possibility of nursing staff being sacked for taking otherwise lawful strike action.

I’m in agreement with the Regulatory Policy Committee’s opinion that the UK government had not considered all impacts of the bill and had not backed up its assumptions with evidence. It’s my view that ministers would be better listening to the mounting opposition, drop the bill entirely and work with unions to resolve these disputes.

Congress 2023 is on the horizon, and I can’t wait to travel to Brighton to spend time with you. Our agenda is now available, so please visit our website and find out what’s in store. Congress is a fantastic opportunity for you to continue the important conversations around pay, safe staffing, your professional role and your wellbeing. Your passion, fire and focus are what make Congress great – book your place to help shape the future of nursing and the direction of the RCN.

You have my word that I will continue to share with you details about next steps in our campaign for fair pay. In the meantime, I hope you will take a much-deserved moment to reflect just how far we have come and consider what great opportunities the future holds. 

Pat Cullen

Pat Cullen

General Secretary and Chief Executive

Pat has worked at the RCN since 2016. Before being appointed General Secretary and Chief Executive, Pat was Director of RCN Northern Ireland from May 2019 to April 2021.

Page last updated - 25/07/2023