While the remit of the NHS pay review body covers the whole of the UK, it is for each administration to make its own decisions on its approach to any pay rises for next year.
The RCN has particular concerns about the lack of clarity about the pay award in Northern Ireland, where nursing staff have not yet had a pay increase for 2017/18.
The letter refers to negotiations the Government wants to see happen between NHS employers and trade unions, including the RCN, to modify the Agenda for Change contract for health service workers.
“More and more nursing staff are struggling to pay their bills or even to put food on the table for their families. Increased pay is vital so that existing staff stay, and the health service is able to begin to fill the tens of thousands of nursing vacancies.”
There will be additional funding for pay awards for staff, the Health Secretary writes, provided they are part of an agreement about reforms to boost productivity.
He confirms that the Government has now adopted a more flexible approach to public sector pay, which has been capped at one per cent for the last seven years, but reiterates that any pay increase will be in return for improvements in productivity.
“In the absence of an Assembly or Direct Rule Minister, we call for urgent clarification about how a decision will be reached on the Northern Ireland pay round”, Janet Davies emphasised.