A nursing union is urging its members to reject a fresh pay offer from the Scottish Government, insisting that workers are still facing a real-terms pay cut.
Following negotiations between the Government and NHS unions, a pay rise of £2,205 was offered in a bid to resolve the dispute.
Talks were held into the early hours of Friday morning as the terms of a deal were discussed.
The offer would be backdated to April 1 this year, with the prospect of this being added to pay cheques in time for Christmas.
According to the Government, the offer would mean the lowest paid seeing a rise of more than 11%, with qualified nursing staff receiving up to 8.45%.
Health secretary Humza Yousaf has said that the pay offer is the largest of its kind since devolution.
Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Scotland director Colin Poolman insisted that the offer fails to recognise the critical role of nursing staff.
“Yet again the Scottish Government has failed to listen to our members concerns for the safety of their patients,” said Poolman.
“They have failed to recognise the safety critical role of all nursing staff and their essential contribution to our NHS and our nation’s health.
“Under this proposal, registered nurses continue to face a significant real-terms pay cut.
“This is even more stark with the news that inflation reached a 40-year high.
“Many are making difficult decisions about how to heat their homes, feed their families and travel to work while carrying the burden of being unable to do the best for their patients due to severe staff shortages.”
Poolman underlined the union’s view that members should vote in favour of taking strike action.
He continued: “This offer fails to recognise the clinical skill, expertise and leadership of registered nurses.
“It will do nothing to address the staffing crisis, the life-threatening delays we are seeing at emergency departments or the lengthy waiting lists for treatment across Scotland’s NHS.”
Poolman added: “Our ballot for strike action continues. Today’s offer will make our members more determined to have their voice heard.
“I would urge members to vote in favour of strike and to post back their ballot papers now.”
Yousaf stated that the offer reflects the hard work of NHS staff and would go “a long way” to helping them through the cost of living crisis.
“I am grateful to trade union colleagues and NHS employees for constructive discussions over pay,” he said.
“This has been another exceptionally challenging year for our health service and we have a difficult winter ahead, but I am pleased that we are able to recognise the service and dedication of our healthcare and support staff with this pay offer.
“We owe NHS staff a debt of gratitude for leading us through the greatest public health crisis in recent history.
“This improved pay offer – which is the largest of its kind since devolution – reflects their hard work and will go a long way to help them through the cost of living crisis.
“We are rightly focussing the biggest increases for those who are the lowest paid, as we know the cost crisis is impacting them disproportionately.”