1% pay cap to continue for nurses in Scotland for another year

The Scottish Government has announced the pay increase for NHS staff will be capped at 1% for those earning over £22,000
Pay cap

Nurses in Scotland face a 1% cap on their pay for another year in a move labelled by RCN Scotland as a ‘missed opportunity’.

 The 1% pay cap for nurses in Scotland remains in the balance. Photo: Pete Ellis

The Scottish Government announced that the pay increase for NHS staff for 2017-18 will be capped at 1% for those earning over £22,000.

All pay points currently £22,000 or below will also receive a flat rate increase of £400.

The Scottish Government said it has accepted independent recommendations on NHS pay, and that the changes should be implemented in time for April’s pay.

Real-term fall

An announcement on pay in England will be made next week, according to a Department of Health spokesperson.

RCN Scotland associate director Norman Provan warned that there has been a real-term fall in nursing pay of around 14% since 2010.

He said: ‘As a result of today’s announcement, the gap between nurses’ pay and the cost of living will grow ever wider.

‘This means that their pay will fall even further behind and will pile the pressure on an already overstretched workforce.

Pay review body

‘Once again, the Scottish Government has missed an opportunity to close the gap between nurses’ pay and inflation and nurses will continue to bear the brunt of austerity measures in the NHS in Scotland.’

The announcement has pre-empted publication of the NHS pay review body (RB) report and recommendations, which provides independent advice on the pay of NHS staff.

Health Secretary Shona Robison said: ‘I recognise that pay restraint has been difficult, however this must be seen in the context of the significant cuts we have seen to Scotland’s budget in recent years.

‘All directly employed NHS Scotland staff will receive at least a 1% uplift in pay. And we are again helping the lower paid by topping up the pay of anyone currently earning £22,000 and below.

‘We will also continue to guarantee a living wage for all NHS staff, and maintain our commitment to no compulsory redundancies. This underlines the value we place on the hardworking men and women of Scotland’s health service.

Announcement next week?

A Welsh Government spokesperson added that details on pay for NHS staff in Wales are also likely to be announced next week.

A Department of Health Northern Ireland spokesperson said: ‘We await the publication of the report from the pay review body and the recommendations contained in it.

‘We will bring them to the attention of the health minister when appointed and seek an early decision on health and social care pay for 2017-18 within the wider financial context.’

In its evidence to the RB on the 2017-18 pay round the RCN asked for an above inflation pay rise to bring nursing pay back into line.  

Parliamentary debate

In January, a House of Commons parliamentary debate on the 1% pay cap for NHS staff was led by Labour MP for Newcastle-upon-Tyne North Catherine McKinnell.

It was triggered by a petition started by community nurse Danielle Tiplady and signed by more than 100,000 people demanding for an end to pay restraint imposed on NHS staff.

The two-hour debate heard from politicians who gave examples of nurses facing hardship in their own constituencies, including nurses having to pawn jewellery to pay bills, using foodbanks and missing holidays.

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