Ahead of next week’s planned strike action, the RCN will be sitting down to talks with Health Secretary, Steve Barclay.
According to reports by the BBC, the strikes which were due to take place on March 1 st -3 rd , would have affected half of frontline services. But due to new discussions over pay taking place, the plans have been halted.
It is believed that the talks will centre around next year’s pay rise, though there could be an option to backdate any raise, which would benefit nurses this year.
Previously nurses, along with other NHS staff – excluding doctors – were awarded an average of 4.75% pay increase. In response to that, there have been multiple strike actions, by nurses and other health service staff.
The government has recommended a pay rise of 3.5% for next year, which would be effective from April. But the amount could be higher if the pay review body advises a higher figure, and the government agrees to it.
The BBC has quoted Pat Cullen, RCN leader, as saying: "We will put our plans on the table, they can put their plans on the table – but I’m confident that we will come out with a fair pay settlement for our nursing staff."
Meanwhile, other unions have criticised the decision to meet with RCN only, stating that the NHS pay dispute cannot be resolved unless all unions are addressed.
Along with nurses, additional industrial action is expected from unions representing junior doctors and ambulance drivers.
The BBC has also reported that in Scotland, nurses have been offered an average increase in pay of 6.5% for the next financial year, along with a one-off payment. And in Wales, a new offer is being considered, with nurses being balloted, and further strikes a possibility if the deal is abandoned.