A three-year pay deal for most NHS staff in Scotland, including nurses and midwives, has today been accepted.
The agreement will mean many workers who currently earn up to £80,000 will receive a minimum cumulative uplift of 9% across 2018-19 to 2020-21. Those on higher salaries will get a flat rate increase of £1,600 a year.
“The deal agreed today provides stability and security to members for the next three years”
Rises will be given to 147,000 employees on the Agenda for Change pay scheme including all nurses, midwives, allied health professionals and paramedics.
Staff not at the top of their pay bands will also receive any incremental pay increases they are due.
The offer was agreed in June and formally accepted today following a consultative ballot involving union members. It follows the recent agreement of a similar three-year deal in England and an expected consultation on one for Wales.
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Commenting today, Scottish health secretary Jeane Freeman said the pay deal agreed in Scotland represented the “highest health uplift in the UK”.
She added: “This pay rise can help recruitment and retention and ensure that our NHS remains an attractive employment option for many.”
The agreement also includes restructuring of existing pay bands, with a reduction in the number of pay points and plans for further negotiation on reforms to terms and conditions such as the sickness absence policy, appraisal and career progression.
Among the unions to accept the deal were the Royal College of Midwives, the Royal College of Nurses, Unite and Unison.
“Going forward we need to consider how we negotiate pay”
The RCN said that 77% of its voting members in Scotland had said “yes” to the deal.
The union’s associate director, Norman Provan, said: “In this uncertain economic climate, the deal agreed today provides stability and security to members for the next three years. It is by no means the end of our fight for fair pay but a platform to build upon in the future.”
Meanwhile, the offer was accepted by 94% of Scottish Unison members.
Matt McLaughlin, head of health for Unison Scotland, said: “This is a good result for Unison members and I am happy that across Scotland we reached out to and engaged with the vast majority of our members. Their decision is a ringing endorsement of the offer.”
The union highlighted that this represented the first year it and other health unions had submitted a pay claim directly to the Scottish government.
It said it was now campaigning for formal structures to be set up so that NHS unions in Scotland could negotiate pay directly with the government and officially leave the UK-wide NHS Pay Review Body process.
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Thomas Waterson, chair of the Unison health committee, said: “Eighteen months ago some people said that we couldn’t negotiate a separate pay deal for NHS workers in Scotland.
“Then they said that we couldn’t negotiate a better deal for Scotland. The Scottish government should commit now to develop negotiating structures in Scotland and allow us to self determine on pay,” he said.
In addition, a huge 95% of RCM voters backed the three-year offer. Emma Currer, the RCM Scotland’s lead negotiator, said: “The RCM is pleased that our members have accepted this pay offer.
“It means that midwives, maternity support workers and other hardworking NHS staff in Scotland can finally begin to recoup the losses they incurred after years of pay freezes, pay stagnation and uplifts well below inflation,” she said.
She added: “This is not the end point but the beginning of the RCM and other health unions continuing to negotiate for the fair pay our NHS staff deserve.”
The deal was least popular with Unite members, though it was still accepted by 71% of the union’s voting members.
Unite regional officer James O’Connell also raised questions over whether Scotland should stay in the NHS Pay Review Body, which negotiates with health unions on pay on behalf of the NHS across the UK.
He said: “Going forward we need to consider how we negotiate pay that will put money back in our members pockets faster and whether the Pay Review Body is the right mechanism to do that.”
As previously reported, many Scottish NHS workers have already received a 3% pay rise this financial year, which will now form part of the over-arching three-year deal.