Nurses are given paid time away from the frontline so they can take management courses and improve their chances for senior NHS positions.
Steve Barclay has pledged to ‘improve nurses’ lives’ by giving them more opportunities to advance their careers and protect them from violence.
The health secretary’s olive branch comes as more than 300,000 members of the Royal College of Nursing vote on union action and the polls close tomorrow.
Writing for the Daily Mail, he said he “deeply regrets” the recent strikes and wants nurses to be well represented at the top of the healthcare system so they have more say in how it is run and make it a better place to work. make works. .
It is hoped the move will prevent more nurses from leaving the profession and improve patient care.
Nurses get paid time away from the frontline so they can take management courses and improve their chances of senior NHS positions
Steve Barclay has pledged to ‘improve nurses’ lives’ by giving them more opportunities to advance their careers and protect them from violence
Women fill nine out of ten nursing positions, but less than half of ‘very senior’ NHS managerial positions, such as chief executives and directors.
Ministers have offered NHS staff – excluding doctors, dentists and very senior managers – a 5 per cent pay rise for 2023/24, an average increase of 4.75 per cent for 2022/23 and a one-off bonus payment of up to ?3,789.
They also promised to make improvements to unpaid issues.
While the deal was accepted by most health unions, the RCN rejected the offer and threatened further strikes to pursue a double-digit increase.
Pat Cullen, the CEO of the RCN, has accused Mr Barclay of being sexist and denying its members a bigger rise because they are predominantly female.
More than 650,000 appointments and surgeries have been canceled since December due to NHS strikes by junior doctors, nurses and physiotherapists, among others, pushing waiting lists to a record 7.4 million.
Mr Barclay said: ‘Nurses are doing a great job protecting patients and have gone above and beyond to care for our loved ones during the pandemic.
?I deeply regret the strike action we have seen in recent months, which has been disruptive to both staff and patients, and I want to work constructively with unions to improve the lives of staff, starting with the delivery of the services agreed in May. wage agreement.
?This week I met with a group of frontline nurses working across the NHS, from intensive care to mental health, to hear directly from them what matters most.
‘Nurses’ health and well-being is paramount to making the NHS a better place to work.
‘I want nurses to have more opportunities to advance their careers by better protecting their training time, so that they can progress to management levels, mentor newly qualified staff and have a say in how the NHS is run.’
Barclay said he plans to trial health care body-worn cameras and use AI to reduce violence against staff after figures showed there have been 6,500 sexual assaults in hospitals in three years.
He said: ‘Any violence against staff is unacceptable and should never happen in the NHS.
‘I want to create a safe environment for the staff, by means of body-worn cameras and national violence prevention.
?I have heard first hand about the vicious behavior to which staff are subjected and I have asked the NHS to look into ways to improve the quality of the data available on these incidents, including possibly using artificial intelligence to better identify trends , and work with the police to ensure appropriate action is taken, including prosecution to ensure the NHS is always safe for staff and patients.’
The cabinet minister said NHS staff will receive the pay rise in their pay packages from this month, meaning a newly qualified nurse will see their salary increase by more than ?2,750 over a two-year period until 2024.
He added: ‘However, this deal is not all about money and I understand that staff pressure, professional development and workload are all reasons why nurses can feel undervalued.
‘The NHS will soon publish a long-term staffing plan to grow nurse numbers and improve retention.
?We are making progress with 44,000 more nurses working in the NHS compared to September 2019 – but I know there is still a lot to do.
?I hope RCN members recognize that this is a fair deal and decide it is time to end the union action.
“Whatever the outcome of their vote, I will continue to make changes and work with the NHS Staff Council to make the NHS a better place to work, so that staff can provide patients with the best possible care.”
An RCN spokesperson said: ‘The government’s commitment to improving career development ? ??as well as tackling violence and safer staffing ? is positive, but nursing staff would like to see clear progress, not more promises.
‘The easiest way to raise standards is with more nurses and yet there are record numbers of unfilled jobs – our professionals are concerned about the impact of low wages and stress displacing more people.
‘The RCN will continue to campaign for nursing staff this year and keep the government on its commitments about valuing our professionals, making the NHS safer and improving the cafe for patients.’