The NHS Scotland Joint Trade Union Pay Claim for 2022 – 2023 was submitted to the Scottish Government in March having been agreed by all the trade unions and professional organisations represented on the Scottish Terms & Conditions Committee (STAC) of which the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) is a member. The Scottish Government chose to initiate direct negotiations with the health trade unions through STAC rather than participate in the Pay Review Process.

STAC staff side recognised recruitment and retention is a significant issue across the whole of NHS Scotland. It asked in its pay claim and through negotiations that the pay increase should reflect the skills and value of staff whilst recognizing and rewarding staff across NHS Scotland. The RCM specifically raising how this impacts on their members.

STAC staff side stated that the pay offer must address:

  • The rising cost of inflation on NHS Scotland Staff and ensure they can cope with rising and rapidly fluctuating costs which may change significantly over the pay year.
  • Absorb the impact of increases to pension contributions and change in taxation.
  • Benchmark the bottom of the structure against the Real Living Wage.
  • Be a significant down payment on the journey of pay restoration to recognise the years of below inflation pay increases experienced by NHS Scotland Staff.

In addition to a significant above inflation pay increase the negotiations also required existing staff are properly rewarded by the full use of Agenda for Change in order to retain staff in the NHS. In particular, that priority should be given to measures that:

  1. Ensure banding outcomes reflect job content
  2. Reward additional hours fairly
  3. Prevent burnout by limiting excess hours
  4. Support progression and career development
  5. Encourage NHS Scotland employers to use recruitment & retention premia (RRP) to recruit and retain staff where shortages are a risk to staff wellbeing and quality of care.

Following the negotiations, the Scottish Government has made a formal offer of a 5% pay increase, for Agenda for Change staff, for the year 2022/2023. They have stated in the offer letter, (Scotland Pay Offer) that there is a “higher increase” for the lowest paid staff. However, this equates to just 5.36% for Band 1 and 5.05% for the first spine point of Band 2. It is 5% across the board for all other grades.

Whilst the Scottish Government have stated they remain committed to ensuring that existing terms and conditions are applied properly and consistently in addressing the five non pay related issues as detailed above, this offer does not meet the ask of the pay claim submitted by the RCM and other NHS Trade Unions in March 2022.

“Not good enough”

An offer of 5% is well below inflation which is predicted to hit 11% later this year and is a further real-terms pay cut, which our members have had enough of year after year. A recent RCM survey of midwives in Scotland has shown that 7 out of 10 are considering leaving the NHS, and this pay offer does nothing to address this alarming statistic.

Jaki Lambert RCM’s Director for Scotland commented: "The Government’s pay offer for our members is simply not good enough. It’s nowhere near what midwives and maternity staff deserve or need right now. Our members are struggling with the rising cost of living and 5% is not enough to counteract the increases in inflation. If they accept this offer, they will not see any real terms improvement in their pay from last year.

"We called on the Scottish Government for an inflation-proof pay rise so this offer will not cut it. We’ve also laid out the reasons why a decent pay increase was so desperately needed to also improve recruitment and retention challenges and to ensure more staff don’t head for the door."

You can read the rest of Jaki’s comments addressing the pay offer on our media release.

Have your say.

It is the RCM's view that this is the best deal that can be achieved through negotiation alone and to improve it, our members in Scotland would need to show that they are willing to take industrial action up to and including strike action. The RCM would work with units to ensure safety was maintained and emergency cover provided during industrial action as it did in 2014 when RCM members in England took strike action.

We are asking RCM members employed in the NHS in Scotland to take part in our consultation and to tell us whether you accept or reject the offer. Please ensure that you have read and understand what the offer means for you before you respond.

A vote to reject the offer signals a willingness to take industrial action if necessary and will be used by the RCM Board to determine next steps. Before any industrial action can legally take place we will be required to formally ballot using a postal ballot that is independently verified.

The consultation will open 28 June and run until 3 August. You can take part by clicking the following link:

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/NR6F7SQ

Please also keep a look out for something happening locally in your RCM branch. We will be holding branch meetings specifically about the pay offer and your local workplace representative will have more information about these soon, so come along and have your say.

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