Delayed NHS pay talks in Scotland to begin in late July

Pay talks for NHS nurses in Scotland are set to start next month, the Scottish Government has confirmed.

A Scottish Government spokesperson has said that negotiations with NHS Agenda for Change (AfC) trade unions to agree a pay uplift for 2024-25 will commence at the end of July.

“NHS staff are rightly frustrated they’ve been left struggling with rising living costs while their calls for a fair pay rise are ignored”

Matt McLaughlin

Last week Unison “welcomed” the Scottish Government’s offer to open pay talks for health workers in Scotland after “months of delays”.

Scotland is continuing the approach it has followed over the last few years to NHS pay and is holding direct negotiations between unions and the government, rather than using the UK-wide NHS Pay Review Body.

Unison, together with other NHS unions, including the Royal College of Nursing Scotland (RCN), submitted their 2024-25 pay claim in February.

They have since criticised the Scottish Government for taking too long to open negotiations for the 2024-25 pay round.

The health unions in Scotland have jointly asked the Scottish Government to commit to a pay uplift for AfC staff which takes into account the current cost of living and addresses the “historic erosion” of staff pay.

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They have also asked the Scottish Government to commit to delivering the funding required to implement the recommendations from the AfC review.

This review, which concluded in November 2023, was agreed as part of the pay deal for 2023-24.

Recommendations from the review include proposals for a reduced working week, protected time for learning and a review of band 5 nursing roles.

Unison Scotland’s head of health Matt McLaughlin said: “Despite submitting a pay claim at the beginning of the year, the Scottish Government has dragged its heels and taken months to get around the table.

“NHS staff are rightly frustrated they’ve been left struggling with rising living costs while their calls for a fair pay rise are ignored.

“Health workers are the glue that holds the NHS together and the government has to recognise their hard work by putting NHS pay right.”

Norman Provan, RCN Scotland associate director, warned that the pay award was now “long overdue” and that his members felt “let down” by the delays.

“It has taken pressure and campaigning by RCN Scotland and partners in the joint health trade unions to get cabinet secretary Neil Gray to finally confirm the start date for the pay negotiations. We’re now four months into the financial year so it’s not ideal,” he added.

“We’ll be using the collective voice of our members working in NHS Scotland to get the Scottish Government to demonstrate that they value nursing and to recognise that fair pay is essential to attract people into the profession and retain the current workforce.”

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