RCN Scotland has lodged a formal trade dispute with the Scottish Government because of ‘serious concerns’ over pay.
A rise of at least 4% for Scottish NHS staff was announced in May. But the RCN and GMB Union rejected the offer, instead pushing for 12.5% and 15% uplifts respectively, while seven other unions accepted.
The wage boost was not enough to offset the ‘worrying numbers’ of nursing staff considering leaving the profession, RCN Scotland board chair Julie Lamberth said in a letter to Scottish health secretary Humza Yousaf yesterday. Members were worried high staff vacancies would impact patient safety, Ms Lamberth added.
Ms Lamberth wrote: ‘[The Scottish Government] has relied on the good will of nursing staff for too long. For years, we have been responding to the challenge of delivering safe and effective patient care, in the face of increasing demands, staff shortages and low pay.
‘Today’s action is a formal expression of our members’ frustration and concern for patient safety. We are sending a clear message that the time to value nursing as a safety critical profession is now.’
The RCN said it will consult members on any next steps if no acceptable outcome is received following the lodging of the trade dispute.
Ms Yousaf said yesterday on Twitter that he ‘will meet again with the RCN’ and was ‘sure we can resolve any dispute’. But RCN trade union committee chair Graham Revie countered: ‘You haven’t met with the RCN as yet so looking forward to it’.
The Scottish Government told Nursing in Practice that Mr Yousaf met with the RCN as part of a collective staff meeting on 14 June.
In a separate statement, Mr Revie said: ‘Without fair pay, it is impossible to retain and recruit nursing staff with the right skills, experience and knowledge in the right place, at the right time. Compromising on this puts our health and care services at serious risk.’
The dispute comes as English nurses wait for the NHS pay review body (NHSPRB), which advises the Government on Agenda for Change pay, to submit its pay recommendations, which it is expected to do by the end of this month.
Although the report was originally expected in early May, an NHSPRB spokesperson told Nursing in Practice it is being submitted to the Government nearly two months late because of the ‘timing of receipt of written and oral evidence by the review body’.
The union Unison, who have nearly half a million members working in NHS healthcare, said Prime Minister Boris Johnson will have ‘nowhere to hide’ on NHS pay once the report is delivered.
Unison general secretary Christina McAnea said: ‘All eyes are now on the Prime Minister. He either has – or will have within days – the evidence gathered by the NHS pay review body. Boris Johnson is now the only person standing between health workers and a wage rise.’