The Scottish Government has made its ‘best and final’ pay offer to NHS workers after days of negotiations with joint health unions concluded tonight.
Under the proposed award, Agenda for Change workers in Scotland would receive pay rises ranging from £2,205 to £2,751, an average uplift of 7.5%, and up to an 11% increase for the lowest paid.
The upper end of this offer is an increase of just over £500 from the Scottish health secretary, Humza Yousaf’s, previous offer of a flat rise of £2,205 across bands, which the Royal College of Midwives described as ‘an insult’ at the time.
However, the previous offer was enough for the RCN in Scotland to announce a delay to strike action until negotiations with the Government had concluded. The RCN has not yet commented on whether it will accept this latest offer.
Nurses in Scotland have already responded to the offer with scepticism.
Bernadette McQuade, a nurse from Kilmarnock, said that – based on details of the offer that she had seen – the award ‘works out at £47.11 a week before deductions, which equates to approximately £31.80 a week’.
Ms McQuade also told Nursing in Practice that she felt the offer would reduce incentives for nurses to work their way up between different Agenda for Change bands, saying: ‘If you look at the difference between bands, there is no incentive to progress. Why would I apply for a band 6 for 8p extra an hour before tax?’
Meanwhile, Leanne Patrick, a nurse also based in Scotland, said: ‘Whilst it is indeed a better offer, it still isn’t a restorative pay offer and it won’t be enough to retain nursing staff.
‘Particularly the most skilled and experienced staff who are being offered the lowest increase. This is a troubling reflection of how nursing skills and expertise are, quite literally, undervalued.’
Mr Yousaf said: ‘We have engaged tirelessly with trade union representatives over recent weeks, leaving no stone unturned to reach an offer which responds to the key concerns of staff across the service. This best and final pay offer of over half a billion pounds underlines our commitment to supporting our fantastic NHS staff.’
If accepted, the pay offer would be backdated to April, he clarified. The offer also includes a review into reducing the working week to 36 hours, a commitment to review the job descriptions of Band 5 roles and ‘ensuring protected learning time for specific groups, such as staff on agreed learning and development schemes’.
He also called on the UK Government to ‘get back to the negotiating table’.
This comes shortly after the RCN issued an ultimatum to health secretary Steve Barclay, giving him five days to enter into formal negotiations with the union.
The Scottish health secretary added: ‘This settlement has been shaped by the unions’ constructive approach and I hope it is backed by their members.’