Nursing staff formally enter dispute with Scottish government over NHS pay

RCN Scotland has raised serious concerns about the recruitment and retention of nursing staff and the impact this has on patient care.   

James McKay
23 June 2021
Fight for Fair Pay

The nursing union previously warned that it would take a “forceful stand”.

Nursing staff in Scotland have today notified the Scottish Government and NHS Scotland employers that they’re in a trade dispute over pay.


Members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) and GMB voted to reject a 4% single-year pay deal earlier this year warning that they would make a “forceful stand” if it was forced upon them.

Under the deal, those on pay bands of 1 to 4 would receive a flat uplift of £1,009, band 5 to 7 would receive a 4% pay increase, bands 8a to 8c would receive 2% pay increase, and bands 8d and 9 would receive a flat uplift of £800.

It comes on top of a £500 “thank-you payment” for health and care workers in recognition of their efforts during the pandemic.

Unison, Unite, RCM, the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, the College of Podiatrists, and the Society of Radiographers all signed the deal.


The goodwill of nursing staff.

In the formal notification letter, RCN Scotland stresses the serious concerns members have about the recruitment and retention of nursing staff and the impact this has on patient care.

“In these circumstances, the Scottish government has left us with no choice but to notify them of this dispute,” said RCN Scotland Board Chair Julie Lamberth.

“They have relied on the good will of nursing staff for too long. For years, we have been responding to the challenge of delivering safe and effective patient care, in the face of increasing demands, staff shortages and low pay. These issues have been exacerbated by the pandemic.

“Every patient needs and deserves the best quality of care possible, but nursing staff are exhausted and worrying numbers are considering leaving the profession.


“Today’s action is a formal expression of our members’ frustration and concern for patient safety. We are sending a clear message that the time to value nursing as a safety critical profession is now.”

A significant pay rise.

The RCN has been calling for a 12.5% single-year rise for all NHS workers since June last year.

Chair of the RCN Trade Union Committee Graham Revie said: “This is an important signal for ministers in Westminster and elsewhere as to why this year’s NHS pay offer must be a significant pay rise. Our members will accept no less.

“Ministers across the UK must do much more to recognise the safety critical role of nursing staff through fair pay, safe staffing and a focus on staff wellbeing.

“Without fair pay, it is impossible to retain and recruit nursing staff with the right skills, experience and knowledge in the right place, at the right time. Compromising on this puts our health and care services at serious risk.”


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