Scottish NHS workers have paused a formal announcement of strike action after talks with unions and the Scottish Government.
The decision to delay the industrial action follows a meeting with the First Minister and the GMB, Royal College of Nursing Scotland (RCN) and the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) on Friday.
The unions previously rejected an offer of a 7.5% rise but after talks yesterday, the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) said it is “cautiously optimistic” over a pay deal with the Scottish Government.
RCN general secretary and chief executive, Pat Cullen, said: “The Scottish government has shown a willingness to return to the negotiating table and to act to address the nursing workforce crisis.
“The pressure from our members has been key to these negotiations moving forward.
“We need to see this process through in good faith.
“Our members in Scotland are being listened to and the First Minister is in no doubt that we will take strike action if the proposals being outlined do not deliver a significant improvement by the end of February.”
Health secretary Humza Yousaf said: “It is very welcome that RCN, RCM and the GMB are suspending industrial action in Scotland, and remain committed to working with us to find a resolution to this dispute.
“I have always maintained that I will leave no stone unturned in order to avert industrial action in our health service, this positive way forward is a direct result of all parties continuing meaningful dialogue in a constructive an open manner.
“This is in stark contrast to the UK Government, who have this week introduced draconian legislation curbing the rights of staff in Scotland’s NHS and other devolved public services, a measure we strongly oppose.
“I would urge the UK Government to follow Scotland’s example and get back round the negotiating table with trade unions and engage in meaningful discussions.”
Colin Poolman, RCN Scotland director said: “Our members have said enough is enough and that was before the current pressures, trying to care for patients and keep services running.
“While the Scottish government repeated their assertion that there is no more money for NHS pay in 2022/23, the strong mandate from RCN members led to the positive discussions this week and the commitment to keep negotiating.
“The Scottish government needs to do more and to take this opportunity to do the right thing, for nursing and for patients.
“These new pay negotiations must acknowledge the safety critical role of nursing.”
The union has said that the overwhelming mandate for strike action from RCN members in Scotland has been instrumental in securing further negotiations.
A proposal from the Scottish Government includes:
– Negotiations for the 2023/24 NHS Agenda for Change pay offer to commence on an accelerated timetable starting next week with an aim of concluding by the end of February.
– A commitment to an additional payment equivalent to three calendar months value of the difference between the 2022/23 and the agreed 2023/24 pay rates.
– A firm commitment from Scottish government to a full review of the Agenda for Change framework in Scotland to ensure nursing is recognised and rewarded with a clear route for career progression.
– A commitment to match any NHS pay increase in England for 2023/24 if it is higher than that agreed in Scotland.
– A commitment to invest any additional consequentials to NHS pay in England for 2022/23 in NHS pay in Scotland for 2022/23.