Nurses consulted on 2023-24 Northern Ireland pay offer

Health unions have begun consulting their members on the pay offer that has been put forward for Health and Social Care (HSC) staff in Northern Ireland.

The majority of unions have urged their members to accept the 2023-24 offer, while some have not made a recommendation on how to vote.

“It is very important that members look at all of the information we have provided in detail before making their decision”

Rita Devlin

The government in Northern Ireland announced last week that it had put forward a 5% pay rise and a one-off non-consolidated payment of £1,505 for all HSC staff working on Agenda for Change contacts. These payments will be backdated to April 2023.

The pay offer came following restoration of power-sharing in the Northern Ireland assembly and executive last month.

The country’s health minister, Robin Swann, declared that this new deal would ensure the restoration of pay parity with NHS colleagues in England.

However, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has argued that the non-consolidated part of the pay deal fell short of what nurses in England had received.

It comes as nurses and other NHS staff in England were handed a one-off bonus for 2022-23 of between £1,655 for band 1 to £3,789 for the top of band 9.

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The RCN announced this week that it would now consult its members on the pay offer.

The consultation will run until 6pm on Thursday 21 March 2024.

The union has not made a recommendation on how to vote and said it would instead leave the decision to its members.

Commenting on launch of the consultation, RCN Northern Ireland director, Rita Devlin, said: “RCN members in Northern Ireland have been waiting a very long time for the pay situation in Northern Ireland to be resolved.

“It is now up to members to carefully consider this offer and to make their decision.

“The RCN Northern Ireland board has decided not to make a recommendation on how to vote and instead leave it up to the members.

“It is very important that members look at all of the information we have provided in detail before making their decision.”

Meanwhile, the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has also launched its consultation on the pay offer, which it said would close on Wednesday 20 March.

Following the announcement of the pay deal, the RCM’s board met to scrutinise it in more detail.

While the board said it believed RCM members deserved more, it felt that this pay deal was “the best that can be achieved”.

As such, the union has recommended that its members accept the deal, on the grounds that it will give midwives pay parity with colleagues working in the NHS in England.

RCM director for Northern Ireland, Karen Murray, said: “Our members have waited too long for this announcement and that’s why the RCM has decided to launch an immediate consultation to enable us to move forward.

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“It’s been a long road to get to this offer.

“Getting to this point would not have happened without the strength of our members taking two days of strike action, which they shouldn’t have had do, but our voices have finally been heard.”

Separately, Unison and Unite in Northern Ireland have also launched consultations on the pay offer.

Both unions have recommended that their members accept the deal, to put an end to the 2023-24 pay dispute in the country.

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