The Guild of Healthcare Pharmacists (GHP) has advised members to reject government proposals for an “insulting and divisive” 7% pay uplift for NHS staff in Scotland.
The latest proposal follows renegotiations between the government and NHS unions after staff rejected a 5% pay offer proposed in June 2022.
Under the new proposals, all NHS Agenda for Change staff in Scotland — including hospital pharmacists — would be offered a flat pay increase of £2,205 for the financial year 2022/2023, which would be backdated to 1 April 2022.
For the lowest paid staff, this represents an 11.32% increase, a breakdown of pay points showed. But for staff on band 8, the increase would be less than 5%, and 2% for band 9 employees.
The Scottish government described the offer as the “largest of its kind since devolution”.
However, Nathan Burley, president of the Guild of Healthcare Pharmacists (GHP), told The Pharmaceutical Journal on 24 October 2022: “The disappointment continues with this — yet again — vastly below inflation pay offer for all bands of staff.
“Staff with professional qualifications are disproportionately impacted and it is regrettable that senior, well-qualified staff with many years of experience at [band] 8A and above are now being met with a pay offer even less than the one before.”
Burley added that the GHP, as part of Unite the Union, “encourages members to reject this insulting and divisive pay offer and prepare for action”.
On 6 October 2022, Unite began balloting more than 2,500 NHS Scotland staff on industrial action over pay. These include tradespeople and maintenance assistant workers in Raigmore Hospital, Inverness, and healthcare science support workers in blood sciences at University Hospital Monklands, Airdrie.
Wilma Brown, chair of public service union UNISON’s health committee, said the unions “have agreed to think it [the pay offer] through”.
“UNISON Scotland’s health committee will meet on Wednesday [26 October 2022] to consider the detail of the offer fully and agree the next steps.
“A flat rate offer will help all staff meet at least some of the cost-of-living crisis. In the meantime, we are still urging all UNISON members to vote for industrial action in our postal pay ballot which closes on 31 October .”
Health secretary Humza Yousaf said the government was offering the largest proportional pay increase to the lowest paid staff because they are disproportionately impacted by the rising cost of living.
“This has been another exceptionally challenging year for our health service, and we have a difficult winter ahead, but I am pleased that we are able to recognise the service and dedication of our healthcare and support staff with this pay offer,” he said.
“This improved pay offer — which is the largest of its kind since devolution — reflects their hard work and will go a long way to help them through the cost-of-living crisis.”
The offer in Scotland follows a pay award for staff in England of at least £1,400, backdated to 1 April 2022, which the NHS Pay Review Body said would increase the pay bill by an average of 4.8% across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.