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Scotland set to see health secretary appointed as new first minister

Scotland set to see health secretary appointed as new first minister
Humza Yousaf - Photo Credit: Scottish Government (Wikimedia Commons)

The health secretary who led successful negotiations on pay for NHS nurses in Scotland and subsequently avoided strike action in the country has been elected as the new Scottish National Party (SNP) leader.

Humza Yousaf is set to become Scotland’s sixth first minister pending a vote by MSPs later today.

Mr Yousaf will replace Nicola Sturgeon who has been the SNP leader and first minister since 2014 and who was also previously a health secretary for Scotland.

In a speech on Monday following his appointment as SNP leader, Mr Yousaf said among his ‘immediate’ priorities was to ‘recover and reform’ the NHS and other vital public services.

He also promised that as first minister, he would ‘not shy away from the tough challenges’ and ‘dedicate every waking moment to serving’ the people of Scotland.

Just last week, NHS nurses in Scotland voted in favour of a 2023/24 pay deal – a pay increase of at least 6.5% as well as a 1.5% one-of payment – which was negotiated by Mr Yousaf and health unions.

Mr Yousaf also negotiated with unions on an improved 2022/23 pay deal for nurses in Scotland and managed to prevent nurses from striking in the country through a set of proposals and talks, which included a commitment to review the Agenda for Change framework in Scotland.

Last month, a new expert nursing and midwifery taskforce, led by Mr Yousaf, was also launched to help improve working conditions and retention.

Responding to Mr Yousaf’s appointment as SNP leader, Royal College of Nursing Scotland director Colin Poolman, said the ‘severe workforce challenges’ across Scotland’s health and care services ‘must be a top priority for the next first minister’.

‘Whilst imminent strike action from Scotland’s nurses has been avoided, the chronic staff shortages and low morale are still very real,’ he added.

Mr Poolman pointed to the more than 4,000 nurse vacancies across the country and warned of the ongoing impacts on patient care and on pressures faced by staff.

He urged Mr Yousaf to ‘live up to his promise’ of reforming Agenda for Change and to prioritise the work of the new nursing and midwifery taskforce, to help ‘make nursing a career of choice once again’.

Outgoing SNP leader and first minister, Ms Sturgeon congratulated Mr Yousaf and said: ‘He will be an outstanding leader and first minister and I could not be prouder to have him succeed me’.


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