Strike action by nurses, midwives and ambulance staff, planned for next week, has been cancelled following a new pay offer.

The Royal College of Nursing Wales has announced this afternoon that strike action due to take place in Wales on Monday 6 and Tuesday 7 February has been cancelled, following an offer to increase the award already made for 2022/23 by 3 per cent (1.5 per cent consolidated) to nursing staff on agenda for change contracts.

The proposal follows negotiations this week between the RCN and other health trade unions and the Welsh Government. Included in this revised package are a number of commitments to enhance staff well-being, on which negotiations will continue next week. The offer will be put to a vote of RCN members working for the NHS in Wales within days.

RCN Wales Director, Helen Whyley, said: “Our strike action in December has clearly been effective as the Welsh Government has listened to the issues facing nursing in Wales and put forward an increased offer for nurses pay back dated to April 2022 and thus avoided the strikes planned for next week.

“Industrial action continues to be a last resort for nurses, and I have heard their stories of the personal sacrifice they make every day fighting for safe care for their patients that pushed them to vote for strike action. The pressure put on the Welsh government by our members has been key to these negotiations moving forward.

“Our elected members have agreed that strike action next week should be cancelled and that we should put forward this offer to our members in Wales for them to decide whether it truly respects and values the nursing profession. The Health Minister should be under no illusion that we will not hesitate to return to strike action should the offer be rejected.”

Midwives and maternity support staff had been due to go on strike on February 7, but the Royal College of Midwives confirmed this afternoon that this had been paused.

The RCM will now be moving quickly to consult its midwife and maternity support worker members on the new offer, which followed talks with the Welsh Government yesterday and today. Further talks are planned to address issues around staffing shortages, working conditions and pressures on services.

Julie Richards, RCM Director for Wales, said: “This has come about because of the determination of our members to make their voices heard and their readiness to take action. It brought the Welsh Government to the table and led to this offer.

“It is important that our members now have their say and the decision to accept or reject this offer lies them. We are pausing this action in good faith so that other issues - such as pressures on staff and working conditions – can also be addressed. Make no mistake though, we still have a very strong mandate for industrial action and will not hesitate to take it if our members reject the offer, or if planned talks do not move forward as promised.”

Confirming the suspension of the strike, the GMB union's Welsh NHS lead Nathan Holman said: "After intense negotiations, GMB has agreed to suspend strike action while further talks take place. We recognise that the Welsh Government and Welsh Ambulance have made concessions and, through social partnership, we appreciate the frank and open dialogue with them over the last few months.

"This has only been made possible because the Welsh Government has been prepared to talk about pay – a lesson for those in charge on the other side of the Severn Bridge."

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “Following continued discussions over the last week, we are pleased to announce that an enhanced pay offer has been made to our health trade unions. On this basis, we are hopeful that the planned industrial action over Monday 6th and Tuesday 7th February will be postponed, allowing trade unions to discuss the proposals further with their members. Individual trade unions will confirm their intentions regarding next week’s action, prior to further talks with their members.

“This revised pay offer comprises an additional 3 per cent, of which 1.5 per cent is consolidated so will be in pay packets year-on-year, on top of the Pay Review Body recommendations, which have already been implemented in full. This offer will be backdated to April 2022. Included in this revised package are a number of non-pay commitments to enhance staff well-being, on which negotiations will continue next week.

“Whilst there is currently no improved pay offer on the table for NHS staff in England, it was also agreed that any resulting Barnett consequential following any improved offer to staff in England would result in a further pay offer to staff in Wales.

“We would like to thank those that have participated in the negotiations for their positive engagement and goodwill. We are awaiting a formal response from each of the individual trade unions.”

Hugh McDyer, UNISON Cymru Wales head of health said in response to the improved pay offer: “We are pleased intensive discussion between the trade unions and Welsh government has resulted in an improved offer.

“The new offer contains an element that will be consolidated into healthcare workers’ pay, which is what UNISON has argued for throughout negotiations.

“UNISON's healthcare committee will now meet early next week to discuss the offer in more detail. UNISON will continue discussions with Welsh ministers on the further improvements to employment conditions. We are absolutely determined to get the best possible deal for our nurses, midwives, healthcare assistants, paramedics, cleaners, porters, catering staff, admin staff and many more.

“After the way they worked throughout the pandemic and how they respond magnificently in a daily challenging situation, it is the least they deserve.”