Health Secretary Steve Barclay held a “constructive” meeting with Royal College of Nursing (RCN) chief Pat Cullen – but made clear that a new pay offer for nurses will not be forthcoming.
Ms Cullen previously recommended the members of her union accept the deal agreed with the government, but it was rejected by members.
However, the offer was imposed because a majority of the NHS Staff Council body wanted to take the deal – despite the opposition from the RCN.
Speaking to Trevor Phillips, who was hosting Sophy Ridge on Sunday on Sky News, Mr Barclay was asked about a recent summit with Ms Cullen.
He said they “had a very constructive meeting this week” – but described what was offered previously and accepted by the NHS Staff Council as a “full and final” offer.
This offer amounted to a 5% pay rise, plus a cash top-up.
Currently, the RCN is balloting over whether to take further strike action, with close to 30,000 members taking part in the vote.
Ms Cullen said previously: “Once again, we have been forced to ask our members if they want to take to the picket lines in their fight for fair pay.
“This is unfinished business and the government can get it resolved without the need for more strike action.”
The cost of living crisis saw the RCN take part in nationwide industrial action across England for the first time in its history.
After other health unions also took action, Unison, GMB, the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists and the Royal College of Midwives were all among those who in the end voted to accept the pay increase offered by the government.
Demands aren’t ‘legally possible’
Speaking about the deal, Mr Barclay told Sophy Ridge on Sunday: “It means a band six, entry-level nurse gets over £5,000 over the two years – recognising the huge, valuable contribution that NHS staff have made.
“Now what some in the RCN are asking us to do isn’t legally possible.
“It’s not possible to give a band six nurse different pay to a band six midwife or a band six paramedic.”
Unite was another union which rejected the government’s offer.
Members at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust in London, and the Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust, last week announced they would be downing tools on 1 June – and junior doctors will be walking out for 72 hours on 14 June.
The RCN leadership is encouraging its members to vote in favour of strikes.
While Mr Barclay said the pay element of the deal is closed, there is room for talks about issues like violence against staff and pension abatement, he added.