NHS pay talks present ‘huge opportunity’ for Scottish Government, says GMB

Talks between the Scottish Government and health unions present a “huge opportunity” for a significant pay rise for staff, one of the unions has said.

The Government has been locked in negotiations with unions in recent months in the hopes of averting industrial action.

Last week, the GMB union – which represents staff in the NHS and Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) – along with the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) and the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) announced they would be suspending announcements of strike action after talks with ministers.

An agreement was reached to expedite negotiations for a pay deal for next year, with the aim being for talks to have finished by the end of next month, as well as to review the Agenda for Change framework and committing to pass on any consequentials sent to Scotland as a result of an NHS England pay deal.

Ahead of the talks on Thursday, GMB Scotland organiser Keir Greenaway said: “This is a huge opportunity for the Government to work with us and bring forward transformative proposals for the value of NHS staff through a significant pay increase for 2023-24.

“For GMB, that means bettering the terms of the existing offer for 2022-23.

“This is doable within the Government’s budget, and if we can achieve this then NHS Scotland stands a far better chance of recruiting and retaining the people needed to build a recovery of our broken health service.

“The good faith our members have shown in agreeing to this process has been reciprocated in the extension of our strike mandates and the commitment to effectively backdate the value of any agreed increase for 2023-24 to January 1.

“However, we still face hard yards in the days and weeks ahead, but the strength of trade union members in dispute across the NHS and SAS has brought about this opportunity, so we urge the Cabinet Secretary to grasp it and avoid the prospect of future strikes.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Negotiations with NHS trade unions commenced on January 19 to secure a pay deal for 2023/24. Talks continue in confidence and we hope to secure agreement in due course.”