Health Minister Steve Barclay has said nurses have been offered a “fair pay rise” this year following news that nurses will go on strike for two days next month.
In a tweet on Friday morning, Mr Barclay said: “We have accepted the recommendations of the National Health Service’s independent pay review body to give nurses a fair pay rise of at least £1,400 this year. This means that a new nurse will typically earn over £31,000 a year.
“[The Royal College of Nursing (RCN)] is demanding a massive 17.6% pay rise – roughly three times the average salary received by millions of hard-working people outside the public sector,” he continued.
The RCN said the £1,400 figure is challenged by the fact that experienced nurses are 20% worse off in real terms due to consecutive below-inflation premiums since 2010.
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The union has now announced that its members will hold their first-ever national walkout on December 15 and 20. The strikes will last 12 hours.
This came after the government rejected an offer of talks as an alternative to protests.
The strikes will take place in England, Wales and Northern Ireland in a major escalation of the current pay row.
In Scotland, the RCN suspended strike action after the Scottish Government resumed NHS pay talks.
RCN general secretary Pat Cullen said: “Ministers have had more than two weeks since we confirmed that our members felt such injustice that they went on strike for the first time.
“My proposal for formal talks was rejected and the ministers chose to strike instead. They have the power and the means to stop it by starting serious negotiations regarding our dispute.
“The residents have had enough of being taken for granted, enough of low pay and dangerous staffing levels, enough of us not being able to give our patients the care they deserve.”
Wes Streeting, shadow health secretary, said: “Why is the health secretary refusing to negotiate with nurses? Patients can’t get treatment on time anyway, they don’t need a strike, and the government allows it. Patients will never forgive conservators for this carelessness.