Scottish Government Urged To Act Now To Secure Scotland’s Nursing Workforce

Today (23 June) Royal College of Nursing members in Scotland formally notified Scottish government and NHS Scotland employers that they are in a trade dispute over pay. This follows the Scottish government’s decision to impose the single-year NHS pay offer for 2021-22 for NHS Agenda for Change Staff without further discussion about RCN members’ rejection of the pay offer.

In a letter to Humza Yousaf, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care, Julie Lamberth, Chair, RCN Scotland Board, wrote that members have ‘serious concerns regarding the recruitment and retention of the nursing workforce in Scotland ’ and the impact this has on patient care. Nursing pay has not kept pace with the cost of living and the Scottish government NHS pay offer falls far short of the RCN’s call for a significant pay rise that applies equally across all bands.  In the circumstances, Julie Lamberth wrote, ‘you have left us with no choice but to notify you of this dispute’.

Commenting on the notification of the trade dispute, Julie Lamberth said:

“The Scottish Government has 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. Nursing staff are exhausted, with worrying numbers considering leaving the profession.

“Every patient needs and deserves the best quality of care, this can only be safely achieved with the right number of nursing staff with the right skills and expertise.

“Today’s action – writing to the Cabinet Secretary to lodge our trade dispute – 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.”

The RCN is calling on Scottish government to engage in further discussions.