Nurses and other NHS workers in Scotland will get the blanket 1% pay rise that was rejected by the government in England – though the situation remains unclear for staff in Wales and Northern Ireland.
From April this year NHS workers in Scotland will get the rise after the Scottish government accepted recommendations made by the NHS Pay Review Body.
The Scottish government has also agreed to supplement the pay of those earning less than £21,000 who will get an extra sum that will boost their wage by £300 in total.
Staff in England are furious after the pay review body’s recommendations were ignored in favour of a two-year deal that will see staff at the top of their pay bands receive the below inflation 1% pay rise in April but staff eligible for incremental pay rises get no cost of living increase.
The different approaches mean a typical band 5 nurse in Scotland will soon be more than £200 better off than their English equivalent, according to the Scottish government, which has spotted an easy opportunity to score points with NHS staff ahead of the upcoming vote on independence.
In an example put together by Scottish officials, a band 5 nurse currently earning £22,903 would see that increase to £24,063 by March 2015, £238 more than the £23,825 the same nurse will get in England.
“I was clear when Jeremy Hunt first suggested reneging on the 1% pay offer for NHS staff in England that we would block that move”
Scottish health secretary Alex Neil said: “I was clear when Jeremy Hunt first suggested reneging on the 1% pay offer for NHS staff in England that we would block that move here and that we would fully implement the modest increase in Scotland.”
The move, which has been welcomed by unions, will fuel speculation that nurses and other NHS staff in Scotland may benefit further if the nation votes to split from England.
“We are delighted the Scottish government has decided to implement the recommendations of the pay review body in full,” said Tom Waterson, chair of Unison’s Scottish health committee.
“We would urge the UK government to also commit to paying health service staff the recommendations in full,” he added.
“NHS Employers, trades unions and staff associations will be asked to undertake urgent discussions”
Meanwhile, the Welsh government issued a holding statement indicating that it was yet to decide what staff would get in April, but warning that “financial pressures are still a significant issue”.
Health minister for Wales Mark Drakeford said: “We will make an award based on the same quantum as the Department of Health – equivalent to the cost of implementing the DH proposals in Wales. However, we may wish to distribute the award in a different way.
“NHS Employers, trades unions and staff associations will be asked to undertake urgent discussions and make recommendations about how this sum can be distributed to maximise our original commitments to maintain high standards of patient care in the Welsh NHS,” he said.
The Northern Ireland Executive has yet to make an announcement.