Record-breaking 5% pay rise for NHS Scotland staff ‘won’t cut it’, union claims

Union leaders have insisted a record-breaking 5% pay rise that is being offered to more than 160,000 NHS workers across is “simply not good enough”.

Scottish Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said the proposed wages hike – which could amount to £2,400 a year for some frontline employees – was a “demonstration of how much we value our NHS staff who have worked tirelessly to keep us safe during the course of the pandemic”.

The deal, which would apply to nurses, paramedics, allied health professionals and healthcare support staff, is the largest pay rise ever to be offered to NHS workers since devolution.

However, union leaders insisted that Scottish ministers needed to “go further on pay for these key workers”.

Jaki Lambert, director for Scotland for the Royal College of Midwives, said: “The Government’s pay offer for our members is simply not good enough. It’s nowhere near what midwives and maternity staff deserve or need right now.

“Our members are struggling with the rising cost of living and 5% is not enough to counteract the increases in inflation. If they accept this offer, they will not see any real-terms improvement in their pay from last year.”

She continued: “We called on the Scottish Government for an inflation-proof pay rise, so this offer will not cut it.”

Meanwhile, the GMB trade union said it could not recommend members accept a deal which “doesn’t sufficiently confront soaring inflation and eye-watering energy bills”.

Karen Leonard, the union’s Scotland organiser, said: “Frontline NHS services are chronically under-staffed and if we want to improve this for patients then we need to recruit and retain the people needed to deliver them, and that starts with proper value.

“In the grip of the biggest cost-of-living crisis in 40 years, we cannot recommend to our hard-pressed members the acceptance of a deal that doesn’t sufficiently confront soaring inflation and eye-watering energy bills, or a funding settlement that awards the most to the highest earners.”

Julie Lamberth, chair of the Royal College of Nursing’s Scotland board, said: “This offer falls far short of our expectations of a fair pay award.

“Our members demonstrated their worth many times over during the pandemic. They have put their own health and wellbeing on the line day after day, month after month. They continue to do so as we move into remobilisation and recovery.”

She said they would consult with members over the offer and “whether it is acceptable to them”, adding that “ultimately it will be our members who have the final say on whether or not this pay offer makes the grade”.

The proposed 5% rise is the second year in a row the Scottish Government has made a record pay offer to NHS staff – after a 4% increase last year.

The pay rise would be backdated to April 1 2022, with the Government stating that staff could receive an additional £1,000 to £2,400 a year in their pay packets, depending on their role and experience.

Mr Yousaf said: “Our NHS Agenda for Change workforce – like nursing and midwifery staff, porter staff, and therapy staff – have long had the best pay and conditions in the UK, and with today’s offer of a 5% pay rise we’re demonstrating our commitment to ensuring that continues to be the case.

“It is a demonstration of how much we value our NHS staff who have worked tirelessly to keep us safe during the course of the pandemic. ”

He added that “constructive discussions with unions and employers” had resulted in the Government now “offering the biggest single-year NHS pay uplift since devolution”.

After an “exceptionally challenging year” for the NHS, Mr Yousaf said he was “pleased that the Scottish Government is able to recognise the service and dedication of our healthcare and support staff”.

The Health Secretary continued: “Experienced porters will receive more than £1,000 extra, while a healthcare support worker will see more than £1,200 extra. Experienced nurses will see their pay rise by more than £1,600 and an experienced advanced nurse practitioner will receive almost £2,400 more.

“In fact, we’re building on NHS Scotland staff being the best-paid in the four nations – the UK Government would need to deliver pay uplifts of between 6% to 14% to frontline NHS England Agenda for Change staff to catch up with pay levels in Scotland.”

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