NHS nurses in Scotland could receive an additional pay rise for this year, even as a number of unions are still contesting last year’s deal.
All Agenda for Change staff in Scotland have been offered a one-off pay packet as well as an average salary uplift of 6.5% for 2023-24, in addition to a pay rise offered by the Scottish Government on last year’s pay deal.
This comes after RCN Scotland called off industrial action in January to consult on a pay offer for last year (2022-23) that would give nurses an average pay rise of approximately 7.5%. However, the union has not yet accepted the 2022-23 and still remains in dispute with the Scottish Government.
Likewise, the Royal College of Midwives and GMB Union put strike action on hold while negotiations for 2023 take place, while Unison and Unite have already accepted the Government’s offer for 2022 of 7.5%.
Colin Poolman, RCN Scotland director, said: ‘I appreciate this has been frustrating for our members in Scotland, the majority of whom voted very strongly in favour of taking strike action. There is no doubt that it was the strength of the strike mandate in Scotland that brought the Scottish government back to the table.
‘Negotiations are the preferable way to resolve disputes so it was the correct decision to see these negotiations through to their conclusion.’
The 2023-24 offer says the the Scottish Government has committed an extra £568m for Agenda for Change contracts in 2023-24, in order to fund rises across most bands.
As in previous offers, the Scottish Government has reaffirmed a commitment to ‘modernise Agenda for Change to support workforce recruitment, sustainability and retention’.
All bands up to 8a will see a pay rise of at least 6.5%, while staff in bands higher than this will receive raises of between 5.91% and 3.33%.
An experienced band 5 nurse would be set to receive an extra £4,749 consolidated over two years as well as a one-off payment of £575.
At higher levels, an advanced nurse practitioner in band 7 would receive more than £5,900, as well as a one-time payment of up to £821.
Commenting on the pay offer, Unison, which is the biggest health union in Scotland, welcomed the deal. Sara Gorton, Unison’s head of health, said that ‘once again, Holyrood has shown Westminster up’.
She added: ‘Dialogue has led to decent wage offers in Scotland and Wales. Rishi Sunak should take heed and give it a go too.’
Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said that efforts had been made to find the funding, commenting that: ‘We have engaged extensively with trade union representatives over recent weeks, leaving no stone unturned to reach an offer which responds to the key concerns of staff.
‘Over the two years of this £1 billion of increased investment in NHS Agenda for Change, a newly qualified nurse would see their pay increase by 15.8%, and experienced nurses at the top of band 5 would see their pay improve by over £4,700.
‘We have taken difficult decisions to find this money within the health budget because we know that our staff are the very backbone of the NHS and we are committed to supporting them, particularly during a cost of living crisis. I am grateful for the continued efforts around the table and that the trade unions will now put this to their members.’