A nursing union has recommended its members vote to accept the record pay deal offered to NHS workers in Scotland.
Julie Lamberth, chairwoman of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Scotland board said the pay rise being proposed would “make a positive difference”.
The Scottish Government had announced it will provide £568m to fund a pay rise for NHS staff next year, which will see some 160,000 workers – including nurses, midwives, paramedics, allied health professionals, porters and others – offered an average 6.5% increase in 2023-24.
But the RCN warned ministers that if its members vote against the new deal, it will look to announce strike dates.
The union had rejected the pay offer made by the Scottish Government to NHS workers for 2022-23, but talks continued in the hope that a deal could be reached over pay for the coming financial year.
And Ms Lamberth said it was their “overwhelming mandate for strike action” that had seen the government commit to those negotiations.
She insisted: “The pressure from RCN members has been instrumental in keeping negotiations going with Scottish Government and the RCN needed to see this process through in good faith.”
Having considered the latest offer from the Scottish Government, she added: “We believe it will make a positive difference for our members which is why we are recommending they vote to accept the offer.”
RCN director Colin Poolman stated: “It will be up to our members to decide whether, overall, the new offer meets their expectations.”
But he warned: “If our members reject this new offer our mandate for strike action still stands and we will look to announce strike dates.”
Unison had already welcomed the offer, with Matt McLaughlin, head of health in Scotland, describing it as a “credible pay offer for NHS workers, and needs serious consideration”.
The union will now be consulting its members on the deal “as soon as possible”.
As well as the average rise of 6.5%, staff will receive a one-off payment of between £387 and £939 if the deal is accepted.
Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said it would ensure that NHS workers in Scotland are “by far and away the best paid anywhere in the UK”.
The Health Secretary said: “We have engaged extensively with trade union representatives over recent weeks, leaving no stone unturned to reach an offer which responds to the key concerns of staff.
“Our healthcare staff have shown how dedicated and hardworking they are time and again and I cannot thank them enough for their commitment, particularly over the last few challenging years.”
He added: “We have taken difficult decisions to find this money within the health budget because we know that our staff are the very backbone of the NHS and we are committed to supporting them, particularly during a cost-of-living crisis.”
The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) will also ask its members if the offer should be accepted.
It had rejected the offer for 2022-23 from the Scottish Government, but Jaki Lambert, RCM director for Scotland, said: “I have been encouraged that the Scottish Government has come forward and engaged with unions in good faith to recognise and address the issues facing midwives, MSWs and their colleagues.
“They have put an offer on the table which gives the RCM and its members much of what we have been asking for around pay and working conditions.
“This has come about because of the determination and readiness of our members across Scotland to take a stand for themselves, but also for better care for women, babies and families. They made their voices heard and the Government has listened.
“The RCM and other health unions have been negotiating hard to reach this point. Our members will now decide whether this offer is one they accept or reject.”