Nurse strike plans in Scotland have been put on hold following the launch of new formal NHS pay talks between the government and unions.
The Royal College of Nursing announced late this afternoon that it will not organise any industrial action in Scotland until the negotiations are concluded.
“We will not be announcing strike action in Scotland until that process reaches conclusion”
It follows a “positive” meeting this morning between RCN general secretary and chief executive, Pat Cullen, and the Scottish first minister, Nicola Sturgeon.
In a statement this afternoon, Ms Cullen said: “This morning’s meeting was positive and Scottish Government is taking the right approach to date – getting to the negotiating table and seeing how this action could be averted.
“With new NHS pay talks opening, we will not be announcing strike action in Scotland until that process reaches conclusion. This is an offer that applies to all governments.
“The first minister understood that we have a very strong mandate for action in Scotland and that our members will strike if a satisfactory pay offer is not forthcoming.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson confirmed that Ms Sturgeon and Ms Cullen had met this morning and engaged in “welcome dialogue”.
They said formal pay negotiations would take place next week with all unions and staff representatives from the Scottish Terms and Conditions Committee (STAC).
“This morning the first minister engaged in a welcome dialogue with the UK general secretary of the RCN, Pat Cullen,” the Scottish Government spokesperson said in a statement.
“Ms Cullen and the first minister discussed the concerns of nurses, and other NHS staff, in the face of pressures in the cost-of-living crisis.
“Both stressed the importance of continued meaningful engagement on pay, and were disappointed that the UK Government had not recognised the importance of seeking an agreement in the interests of nurses and to avoid industrial action.
“Formal negotiations on NHS Scotland pay and conditions will re-commence with all STAC health unions and staff representatives early next week.”
It comes after the RCN Scotland Board rejected a revised 2022-23 NHS pay offer put forward last month by the Scottish Government.
“Ms Cullen and the first minister discussed the concerns of nurses, and other NHS staff, in the face of pressures in the cost-of-living crisis”
Scottish Government spokesperson
A ballot held with RCN members in Scotland has now given the college a mandate to take strike action in all NHS boards and employers in the country.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Unison Scotland announced that its NHS members had rejected the Scottish Government’s revised pay offer.
Following the results, Wilma Brown, chair of Unison Scotland’s health committee, said: “Ministers need to understand the anger of health staff who are working in an under-funded, under-staffed NHS. These are unprecedented times and NHS staff are struggling to make ends meet.
“This should be a massive wake-up call to the Scottish Government. They need to come back to the negotiating table with an improved offer or prepare themselves for the first strikes in the NHS since devolution.”
The new offer was a £2,205 pay increase which the government said equated to an average 7% pay uplift for NHS staff or 8.45% when just looking at registered nurses.
The previous offer was a 5% pay increase for 2022-23.
Members of the Royal College of Midwives and the GMB Union in Scotland have also voted in favour of industrial action over pay.
Nursing Times has approached unions for comment about the new pay talks.