Nurses may see shorter working week if AfC recommendations approved
Scottish Government considering reforms to Agenda for Change contracts, which also include pay changes, protected learning time and a review of band 5 nursing roles
Nurses working for the NHS in Scotland could see a shorter working week and be given protected learning time if reforms to Agenda for Change (AfC) contracts are approved.
The Scottish Government committed to review whether AfC was fit for purpose as part of the pay deal reached with nurses and other healthcare workers for 2022-23 and 2023-24.
Cabinet secretary is reviewing proposals
Recommendations were agreed at a meeting in Edinburgh on 21 November between RCN Scotland, other health unions and the Scottish Terms and Conditions Committee, including a review of band 5 nursing roles and pay changes.
They are now with the Scottish Government’s cabinet secretary for NHS recovery, health and social care Michael Matheson for final approval.
‘Expectations for the difference this review could make are high’
RCN Scotland director Colin Poolman said negotiations were vital as many members remain dissatisfied with their pay, terms and conditions after ‘only a narrow majority’ voted to accept the pay deal earlier this year.
‘Expectations for the difference this review could make are high. Our members need to know that the government is committed to recognising and rewarding our members’ remarkable contribution to health and social care in Scotland,’ he said.
‘This is set to be the worst winter on record for Scotland’s health and care system. We are calling on him to approve the funding required to implement the recommended outcomes quickly and in full.’
England is examining some aspects of Agenda for Change contracts
In March 2023 RCN Scotland members voted to accept a pay offer from the Scottish Government, which included an average consolidated pay increase of at least 6.5% for all staff and a one-off pro rata payment of between £387 and £939.
While the Scottish Government agreed to review AfC , this was not formally agreed in England’s pay deal. However a programme board was set up jointly between the NHS Staff Council, unions and employers in England to consider non-pay issues for staff on AfC such as safe staffing, career progression for nurses and support for newly qualified nurses.
Government says ‘recommendations will now be fully considered’
A spokesperson for the Scottish Government said it could not provide a timetable for a response to the recommendations, adding the cabinet secretary will announce his decision in due course.
‘Working groups were established to bring forward recommendations to the health secretary on specific issues. These were: band 5 review, protected learning time, pay and reward, and reduced working week,’ they said.
‘The four groups have now concluded their work, and have made their final recommendations to the health secretary. These recommendations will now be fully considered before next steps are agreed.’
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