NHS strikes avoided as nurses accept Scottish Government pay deal

The Royal College of Nursing Scotland confirmed members voted in favour of accepting by a very slim majority.

Strikes avoided as Royal College of Nursing members vote to accept NHS pay deal from Scottish Government RCN

Nurses across the country have voted to accept the Scottish Government’s NHS pay deal.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Scotland confirmed the result of its ballot on Monday with members voting in favour of accepting by a very slim majority.

Only just over 50% of eligible RCN members took part in the consultative ballot, with 53.4% voting to accept the offer.

It comes after the Scottish Government announced it would 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.

The RCN had warned of strikes if its members voted against the new deal. The union’s ballot on the deal closed at 9am on Monday.

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.

Colin Poolman, director of RCN Scotland, said: “Our members voted for strike action with a heavy heart. Their commitment to standing up for patients and their profession brought Scottish Government back to the table.

“Members have narrowly voted to accept this offer but Scottish government must be under no illusion, much more is required for nursing staff to feel valued and to ensure Scotland has the nursing workforce it needs. They must live up to their promises. The Agenda for Change framework must be modernised to recognise the clinical skills and expertise of nursing staff and further improvements to pay, terms and conditions are needed in the years ahead.”

Julie Lamberth, chair of the RCN Scotland board, said: “It took the real threat of nursing strikes to get Scottish government to this point. While members voted by a narrow margin to accept the offer, the chronic staff shortages and low morale that led to the strike mandate are still very real.

“Scotland’s new first minister must ensure that the nursing voice is listened to, that our contribution is recognised through the Agenda for Change review and the commitment to a Nursing and Midwifery Taskforce delivers real change.”

Strikes were suspended earlier in the year while members of three unions were asked to vote on the improved deal.

On Friday, Scotland’s largest health union voted to accept the Scottish Government’s NHS pay offer.

Unison said almost four in five (78.5%) voted to accept the rise, removing the threat of industrial action.

GMB Scotland, representing other NHS staff, said 59.7% of balloted members voted to accept the new offer.

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