The decision follows a meeting with the First Minister and RCN General Secretary and Chief Executive Pat Cullen today and talks this week between Scottish government, the RCN and the other trade unions currently in dispute regarding NHS pay (the GMB and Royal College of Midwives) to consider a roadmap to resolving the dispute. The Scottish government was fully aware that an announcement on RCN strike dates was imminent.
The overwhelming mandate for strike action from RCN members in Scotland has been instrumental in securing these further negotiations.
The proposal from Scottish government includes:
- Negotiations for the 2023/24 NHS Agenda for Change pay offer to commence on an accelerated timetable starting next week with an aim of concluding by the end of February
- A commitment to an additional payment equivalent to three calendar months value of the difference between the 2022/23 and the agreed 2023/24 pay rates
- A firm commitment from Scottish government to a full review of the Agenda for Change framework in Scotland to ensure nursing is recognised and rewarded with a clear route for career progression
- A commitment to match any NHS pay increase in England for 2023/24 if it is higher than that agreed in Scotland
- A commitment to invest any additional consequentials for NHS pay in England for 2022/23 in NHS pay in Scotland for 2022/23.
Scottish government would also support NHS employers to agree an extension of the RCN’s ballot mandate for strike action beyond early May if required
Pat Cullen, RCN General Secretary and Chief Executive said: “The Scottish government has shown a willingness to return to the negotiating table and to act to address the nursing workforce crisis. The pressure from you, our members, has been key to these negotiations moving forward. We need to see this process through in good faith.
“Our members in Scotland are being listened to and the First Minister is in no doubt that we will take strike action if the proposals being outlined do not deliver a significant improvement by the end of February.”
Colin Poolman, RCN Scotland Director said: “You have said enough is enough and that was before the current pressures trying to care for patients and keep services running.
“We know it is frustrating that things are not moving more quickly but things are moving. While the Scottish government repeated their assertion that there is no more money for NHS pay in 2022/23, it was my strong mandate from you that led to the positive discussions this week and the commitment to keep negotiating.
“The Scottish government needs to do more and to take this opportunity to do the right thing, for nursing and for patients. These new pay negotiations must acknowledge the safety critical role of nursing."