NHS strikes in Scotland have been averted after unions representing midwives and nurses voted to accept the Scottish government’s pay offer.
Just over half of Royal College of Nursing (RCN) members voted in the ballot, with 53.4 per cent of those voting to accept the offer equating to an average 6.5 per cent increase in 2023/2024.
Around half (49 per cent) of members of the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) voted in the ballot, with 69 per cent voting to accept the deal.
Last week, Unison and the GMB unions also voted to accept the pay offer.
The RCN said that while the vote ends an immediate threat of strike action, a significant minority of members voted to reject the offer, demonstrating their “continued frustration and concern” about the ongoing staffing crisis in the NHS.
It called for the Scottish government to “live up” to its promise to reform the Agenda for Change and make nursing a career of choice once again.
Colin Poolman, director, RCN Scotland, said: “Our members voted for strike action with a heavy heart. Their commitment to standing up for patients and their profession brought the Scottish government back to the table.
“Members have narrowly voted to accept this offer but the Scottish government must 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.”
‘This proves that when midwives, maternity support workers and their NHS colleagues take a stand, governments must listen and act’ says @MidwivesRCM @ScotlandRCM Director @JakiLambert as RCM Scotland members accept @scotgov pay offer, see https://t.co/DOVKOGQBZb
— The RCM Scotland (@ScotlandRCM) March 20, 2023
Meanwhile, the RCM called for an improvement to working conditions across Scotland after a damning report last year showed three-quarters of midwives had considered leaving the profession.
Jaki Lambert, RCM director for Scotland, said: “This is a good offer that gives our members most of what they had been asking for, including an above-inflation pay award and a commitment to reform of NHS pay bands.
“While pay is crucial, this was also about midwives feeling seen and valued. Improving retention through better working conditions, professional midwifery issues and the wellbeing of staff are also a key component of this.
“Most importantly, it was also about our members standing tall and being prepared to take action to ensure better care for women, babies and their families.”
Last month, Scotland’s health secretary Humza Yousaf committed to establish a nursing and midwifery taskforce which 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.