Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Nursing union chief has little confidence in Government making acceptable offer

A nursing union said he has little confidence a new offer from the Scottish Government will be enough (Peter Byrne/PA)
A nursing union said he has little confidence a new offer from the Scottish Government will be enough (Peter Byrne/PA)

A senior nursing union official has said he has little confidence in an acceptable pay offer being made by the Scottish Government.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Scotland opened a ballot of members on Thursday that could result in staff taking strike action for the first time in Scotland.

The ballot comes after a 5% pay offer was resoundingly rejected in the summer, and the union has been campaigning for an offer equal to “inflation plus 5%” – about a 15% increase.

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said earlier this week he will get back around the table with a “significantly improved” offer, with talks expected to start on Wednesday.

Speaking as a group of nurses gathered outside Holyrood on Thursday, RCN Scotland director Colin Poolman told the PA news agency: “Unfortunately, I don’t have huge confidence currently.

“Although hearing ‘significantly improved offer’ has to give us some confidence, I’ll wait and see once negotiations start up.

“Ultimately, it will be our nurses that decide, whatever offer comes in, whether it’s acceptable or not – but the one thing that I can tell you is they feel undervalued, underpaid, understaffed and therefore they’re looking for an improved offer.”

The talks come against the backdrop of financial pressure in the Scottish Government, with Deputy First Minister John Swinney announcing £500 million in cuts as a result of an increased pay offer for local authority staff.

Any attempt to tell NHS staff that an improved pay offer could have a negative effect on health services was described as “emotional blackmail” by Mr Poolman.

“That’s pure emotional blackmail on our nurses – it’s unacceptable and quite offensive actually,” he said.

“It’s the politician’s job to go away and find the resources, the nurse’s job is to deliver care – they’re doing their part of the deal, it’s now (the Health Secretary’s) and the Government’s turn to do theirs, and that’s to pay nurses properly.”

Humza Yousaf
Health Secretary Humza Yousaf has said the Government will make a ‘significantly improved’ pay offer (PA)

While Mr Poolman pushed for an offer of inflation plus 5%, he said any offer would have to, at least, not be a real terms pay cut.

Meanwhile, chair of the RCN Scotland board, Julie Lamberth, said the pandemic “broke” the nursing workforce due to the pressure put on staff.

“We got a 4% pay award last year, 1% more this year – we’ve had enough,” she said.

“The cost of living has gone up – it’s gone up for everybody – but actually we have a safety-critical role.

“We were praised in the media about how wonderful the nursing workforce was and I know everybody in the NHS, health and social care were under pressure, but no-one will truly know some of the pressure that our nursing staff have felt.”

Ms Lamberth – who still works as a frontline nurse – said that should strike action go ahead, services would be reduced to those seen on Sundays or holidays like Christmas Day, with emergency care being prioritised.

Unison began balloting its 50,000 members for strike action on Monday – recommending they back walkouts – while the Royal College of Midwives in Scotland opened its vote last month.

On Thursday, Unite also announced plans for a “targeted” balloting of 2,500 staff across Scotland, including the entirety of the Scottish Ambulance Service workforce.

Radiographers in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde – except those working in cancer care at the Beatson hospital and in breast screening to protect the service in the event of a strike – will be part of the ballot.

Elsewhere, staff at the Golden Jubilee Hospital, Ayrshire and Arran, Grampian, Fife, Highland, Tayside, Lothian, Borders and Lanarkshire will also be asked to respond by November 4.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “The heroes that we all applauded during the pandemic are being told to take a substantial real terms pay cut – yet another hit on NHS pay.

“When inflation is well into double-digits, 5% just doesn’t cut it. NHS workers need to pay their bills and protect their families.

“Nobody wants to go on strike but they are being left with no choice now but to take a stand.”

Mr Yousaf said: “Any ballot for industrial action is disappointing. We are engaged with health unions and I hope we can come to an agreement on pay in the near future.

“This work continues in the context of our emergency budget review following the UK Government’s fiscal event.”