The Scottish Government has tabled a 5% pay rise as a “final offer” to NHS Scotland and Scottish Ambulance Service workers.
The improved deal follows “inconclusive” negotiations between the Royal College of Nursing, other health trade unions, the Scottish Government and NHS employers.
It applies to the vast majority of staff working in the NHS on Agenda for Change terms and conditions. The Scottish Government called it “the largest single year increase since devolution”.
GMB union said Scottish ministers had to go further and that it would not be recommending its members accept the deal.
“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,” GMB Scotland organiser Karen Leonard said.
“In the grip of the biggest cost-of-living crisis in forty 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.”
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN), the world’s largest professional organisation and trade union for nursing staff, said the pay offer was long-overdue and falls short of expectations.
But the RCN said it would consider the detail of the offer and it will be up to members to have a final say.
“Our members demonstrated their worth many times over during the pandemic,” Julie Lamberth, chair of the RCN Scotland board, said.
“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.”
Scotland’s largest health union UNISON said it would consult members on the “below-inflation” pay offer.
Wilma Brown, chair of UNISON’s Scottish health committee, called the deal a real-terms pay cut.
“Our members will want to know why NHS staff on the highest pay bands will receive a rise of more than £5,500 per year while hard working domestics, porters, nursing assistants and others on the lowest bands are only deemed to be worth circa £1,000 per year,” she said.
“We have made it clear to the Scottish Government that our members will be disappointed and we will now be consulting our members on next steps. We would urge all of our members to look out for their ballot in the coming weeks.”
Health secretary Humza Yousaf said “the biggest single year NHS pay uplift since devolution” followed constructive discussions with unions and employers.
“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,” he said.
“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.
“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, as 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 front line NHS England Agenda for Change staff to catch up with pay levels in Scotland.
“This has been another exceptionally challenging year for our health service and I am pleased that the Scottish Government is able to recognise the service and dedication of our healthcare and support staff. We will be forever grateful for their professionalism and care.”