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RCN, unions and Scottish Government agree pay increase of at least 9% for nurses

Deal leaves nurses in Scotland ‘significantly better paid’ than those elsewhere in the UK 

Deal leaves nurses in Scotland ‘significantly better paid’ than those elsewhere in the UK 

Scotland Pay Vote
Picture: iStock

Nurses in Scotland have voted in favour of accepting a three-year pay deal until 2020-21.

The agreement between health trade unions and the Scottish Government has prompted the latter to claim that nurses in Scotland would be ‘significantly better paid’ than those elsewhere in the UK.

The RCN said that most members working in NHS Scotland would see a pay increase of at least 9% by April 2021, starting with the 3% uplift received in July as a ‘goodwill gesture’.

Now trade unions have accepted the deal, nurses can expect the 3% uplift to be backdated to 1 April .

A month-long RCN consultation, which closed on Wednesday, resulted in a 77% yes vote from those who participated.

But, turnout was low, with only 9% of the 25,900 eligible members voting.

In comparison, turnout for the RCN pay deal vote in England was 18.5%. 

Simultaneous consultation

There was a 94% ‘yes’ vote from UNISON members who voted in a simultaneous consultation, while 95% of those who voted in the Royal College of Midwives consultation favoured the pay deal.

RCN Scotland associate director Norman Provan said: ‘Last year, politicians across the UK listened to the voice of nursing and agreed to “scrap the cap”.

‘In this uncertain economic climate, the deal agreed today provides stability and security to members for the next three years.’

The agreement includes changes to pay bands, including a reduction in the number of pay points, and plans for further negotiation on future terms and conditions.

Details from the joint health trade union website NHS Pay in Scotland:

  • Staff in bands 2-9 who are not at the top of their bands will receive increases of 9.7%-27.7% over the three years as pay points are reduced.
  • Those at the top of bands 2-8c will receive a total increase of 9% over three years.
  • Staff at the top of band 8d will receive an increase of 5.7%
  • Those at the top of band 9 will receive 4.7% over the three years – equating to £1,600 every year.

Ringing endorsement

UNISON Scotland head of health Matt McLaughlin said: ‘This is a good result for UNISON members and I am happy that, across Scotland, we engaged with the vast majority of our members. Their decision is a ringing endorsement of the offer.’

Royal College of Midwives (RCM) Scotland lead negotiator Emma Currer said the deal means Scottish staff ‘can finally begin to recoup the losses they incurred after years of pay freezes, pay stagnation and uplifts well below inflation’.

Scottish health secretary Jeane Freeman said: ‘I’m delighted NHS agenda for change staff have voted to accept our offer of a pay rise of at least 9% over the next three years.

‘This pay rise can help recruitment and retention and ensure that our NHS remains an attractive employment option for many.’

The Scottish government said that, by 2020-21, a ward nurse at the top of band 5 will earn £1,030 more than a colleague in England and an advanced nurse practitioner at the top of Band 7 will earn around £1,500 more than a compatriot in England.

The RCN in England has come under intense scrutiny for the handling of its deal, with chief executive Janet Davies issuing an extraordinary apology.

There has been no movement on a deal in Northern Ireland because of a lack of government, while in Wales negotiations are ongoing between trade unions and the Welsh Assembly.


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