Members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) in Scotland have voted to accept the pay offer given by the Scottish government, suspending the planned strike action. This acceptance was due to the ballot resulting in acceptance by a narrow majority of 53.4%. Although they voted to accept, RCN Scotland acknowledges that a significant minority were not in support of accepting this offer – which shows the discontent of nurses in Scotland.
Similarly, members of GMB in Scotland have also removed the strike action plans of NHS Scotland and the Scottish Ambulance Service due to accepting the pay offer the Scottish government gave. This was accepted through a ballot that resulted in 59.7% of members voting to accept.
Background on the Nursing Workforce Crisis
Like other strike actions and demands brought forth in other industries, nurses across the UK have been calling for pay rises and improvements in working conditions. Rising inflation rates, which stand at 9.2%, that have not been aligned with pay rises are now significantly affecting nurses, with them receiving pay rises consistently below inflation rates since 2010.
Not only demanding pay raises, but nurses have also expressed concern and frustration over working conditions. Staff shortages have become an issue as often there are unsafe staffing levels – which limits them from giving patients proper care.
Details on the Offer
The accepted offer will involve allocating funds of £568 million for NHS staff in Scotland which include nurses. The average increase will be 6.5% for the 2023/24 financial year starting in April.
On top of a pay rise, nurses will also be given a one-off payment equal to three calendar months’ difference between the basic pay of 2022/23 and 2023/24. This lump sum is reported to be around £387 to £939. Overall, this will mean that the majority of nurses will experience pay rises of 13-14% in the next two years.
Julie Lamberth, board Chair at RCN Scotland stated: “It took the real threat of nursing strikes to get the Scottish government to this point. While you 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 that the commitment to a Nursing and Midwifery Taskforce delivers real change.”
Although the offer has been accepted, RCN Scotland will still be considering the pay offer given to NHS England and the possible impact it will have on NHS Scotland’s pay. If the offer given to NHS England includes additional funding given to the Scottish government for the 2022/23 period of NHS pay, they will immediately act on the re-opening clause that was agreed upon. This action is part of their roadmap to resolve the ongoing disputes.