Manx Care has responded to the Manx Independent’s story about the industrial dispute affecting nurses.

A nurses’ union leader told yesterday’s paper that her members felt undervalued.

Estephanie Dunn was speaking after a new pay offer was made to the Royal College of Nursing, which is now surveying its members about it.

The new offer is a further 2% pay increase on top of the 4% paid in October and a £300 lump sum.

Following a period of negotiation with Manx Care, the RCN is now asking its members whether the offer would be acceptable.

This offer matches the one made to Prospect, a public sector union, in November.

The survey will run until midnight on Wednesday, March 22.

All RCN members employed by Manx Care are eligible to vote and will receive an email.

The RCN will not be making a recommendation to members as the results will provide a mandate for how the membership want negotiations regarding their pay to continue.

Manx Care has now responded to the Independent’s story.

It says it made a further revised pay offer to colleagues employed on MPTC (Manx Pay Terms and Conditions) contracts in early November 2022, which comprised 4% for the 2021/22 financial year alongside a one-off £300 lump sum payment, and an offer of 6% for the 2022/23 financial year pay award.

This followed earlier offers of 4 and 6% which had been rejected. The offer made in November was also formally rejected by four unions, including the Royal College of Nursing.

Discussions between Manx Care and staff-side representatives have continued although a Manx Care spokesman said it has been unable to improve its offer in light of financial constraints.

Manx Care understands that, following the rejection of the above offer, the RCN has been following its internal governance procedures and was intending to ballot its members on industrial action.

Manx Care logo - green
Manx Care logo (Manx Care)

Manx Care has already implemented a 4% increase for the 2021/22 financial year, and a further 4% increase for the 2022/23 financial year in light of the current economic climate and cost of living pressures on staff, while negotiations have been taking place.

The organisation has also committed to implementing the remaining 2% pay increase offered for 22/23, ‘in recognition of the difficult financial climate and to lessen the adverse impact the prolonged negotiations have on our colleagues’.

‘Manx Care remains committed to maintaining a dialogue with our staff-side partners,’ the spokesman said..

‘Manx Care recognises the challenges of attracting staff, despite offering pay that is competitive with UK salaries, and in turn has raised the nurse training bursaries to £10,000 to increase uptake of training.

‘Additionally, Manx Care has agreed to double the intake of trainees in 2023, so if you’re thinking of becoming a registered nurse on the Isle of Man, now is the time to apply.

‘We are also developing new roles to support registered nurses, such as maternity care assistants and nursing associate roles, which are highly skilled, very rewarding roles that make a massive contribution to great patient care.’

Amid what Manx Care describes as ‘intense competition for registered nurses globally’, the organisation has developed what it calls ‘a pipeline of international recruits who will be joining our team of talented staff over the course of the next four months, boosting the numbers of registered nurses on the front line of care’.

A spokesman said: ‘The organisation is investing heavily in stabilising rotas and carefully planning for future workforce needs. Manx Care has adopted the RCN Nursing Workforce Standards and is implementing them.’

In an interview with yesterday’s Manx Independent, Ms Dunn, regional director for the RCN in the North West, said: ‘Once again, we reach a point with Manx Care where we are obliged to consult with our members on the latest pay offer.

‘I’m shocked and saddened that we are still at a point where our members feel so undervalued and underpaid in the Isle of Man that even the 2021/22 pay award agreement is outstanding.

‘It’s taken over six months to once again reach a point where we have an offer for our members following their vote where the feeling was so strong that they told us they would be willing to take industrial action over their pay.

‘In that time, staffing levels haven’t improved, agency bills are still phenomenally high, and recruitment and retention hasn’t improved.

‘Staff are still overworked and underpaid. The important thing is that Manx Care are speaking with us, but it will be our membership who decide on whether the offer is good enough.’

Mary-Ann Robinson, senior officer for the North West division of the RCN, said: ‘This has been a very long and protracted process.

‘Whilst we are in negotiations with Manx Care, they are very much reliant on the budget given to them by the government.’

In the 2023 Budget, the healthcare system was given an extra £3.5 million to facilitate the recommendations given by the Sir Jonathan Michael report.

Ms Robinson said: ‘We do want to put a shout-out to the government. You really need to look at the financial purse that you are issuing to the Department of Health and Social Care.

‘It’s not fitting for the organisation to be able to provide us with any additional offer at this time.

‘I think they do value the staff, but it’s just not enough.’

The RCN has a ‘working group’, which is for the more vocal members of the union in the island, with some members nominated by others to represent them and their views when talking to union representatives.

Ms Robinson said: ‘The reaction among the group was anger because they’ve had to wait to get confirmation that this is the offer and it’s still not enough.’

Following a response to a vote last July (2022) in which more than 75% of the RCN’s membership employed by Manx Care took part, 83.1% of respondents voted that the 4% pay award for 2021/22 and 4% pay offer for 2022/23, was unacceptable.

More than 55% of participating members said they would be willing to take industrial action.

Ms Robinson said: ‘I’d be telling the Manx government: “Your health and social care is the biggest workforce in the island.

‘“It is a 24/7 service and the workforce is it’s biggest asset, it’s a skilled and developed workforce.

‘“You are not growing your own on-island so we’ve got to encourage people to come across.”

‘The government has got to look at what it is giving to Manx Care so that they can offer better terms and conditions.’