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Scottish government warned it must live up to its promises - as RCN members vote to accept the NHS pay offer

20 Mar 2023

RCN members in Scotland have voted to accept the Scottish government’s NHS pay offer by a narrow majority.

Your vote is your voice Scotland

The consultative ballot was open between Tuesday 28 February and Monday 20 March 2023. Just over 50% of eligible members took part in the consultative ballot, with 53.4% voting to accept the offer.

Our strong mandate for strike action secured the further negotiations that led to the new NHS pay offer. Whilst your vote to accept ends the immediate threat of strike action by RCN members, a significant minority of you voted to reject the offer, a demonstration of your continued frustration and concern about the nursing workforce crisis facing Scotland’s NHS.

We are clear the Scottish government must live up to its promise to reform Agenda for Change and to make nursing a career of choice once again.

Colin Poolman, Director, RCN Scotland said: “I know many of you voted for strike action with a heavy heart. It was this commitment from you to stand up for patients and for your profession that brought Scottish government back to the table.

“We asked you to give us your views and the offer has been accepted by a narrow majority. This is not the end, we will continue the fight for fair pay and safe staffing.

“The Scottish government should be under no illusion; much more is required for nursing staff to feel valued and to ensure Scotland has the nursing workforce it needs. They must live up to their promises. The Agenda for Change framework must be modernised to recognise the clinical skills and expertise of nursing staff and further improvements to pay, terms and conditions are needed in the years ahead.”

Julie Lamberth, Chair, RCN Scotland board said: “It took the real threat of nursing strikes to get Scottish government to this point.  While you voted by a narrow margin to accept the offer, the chronic staff shortages and low morale that led to the strike mandate are still very real. Scotland’s new First Minister must ensure that the nursing voice is listened to, that our contribution is recognised through the Agenda for Change review and that the commitment to a Nursing and Midwifery Taskforce delivers real change.”

Last month, in response to the RCN’s strike mandate and member reports on the impact of chronic staff shortages, the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care and the Chief Nursing Officer committed to establish a Nursing and Midwifery taskforce. The Taskforce will recommend a series of actions to support the retention and development of existing nursing staff and encourage more people to consider a career in nursing.

RCN Scotland is also considering the detail of the pay offer for NHS England, and the implications for NHS pay in Scotland if it is accepted. If the offer results in additional funding coming to the Scottish government for NHS pay in 2022/23, the RCN will immediately demand that the Scottish government act on the re-opening clause agreed with the RCN as part of the roadmap to dispute resolution.

Page last updated - 19/08/2023