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Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Scottish Labour to scrap pay cap and give nurses 'pay increase they deserve'

Written by Katrine Bussey

Nurses in Scotland have seen their wages fall by an average of £3,400 in real terms as a result of the cap on public sector pay, Labour has claimed.

With rises limited to a below inflation 1%, Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale pledged her party would scrap the pay cap and give health workers the "pay increase they deserve".

Labour will use a debate in Holyrood to challenge the Scottish Government to match that commitment.

That was backed by Royal College of Nursing Scotland director Theresa Fyffe, who urged all parties to "show that they value nursing staff by ending the 1% pay cap and paying them a fair wage".

According to Labour, the number of long-term vacant nursing posts has increased by more than 300% under the SNP - leaving health workers "overworked and under increasing pressure".

Ms Dugdale said: "Our NHS staff are the foundation of our health service, but they aren't getting the support and they resources they need from the SNP government.

"In fact, nurses in our health service have faced on average a real terms cut of £3,400 as a result of the nationalist pay cap."

She added: "The first step in delivering an NHS that delivers the care Scots needs is to give staff the pay they deserve. Labour would scrap the 1% pay cap to give our NHS staff the pay increase they deserve.

"The choice in this election is clear - Labour MPs who will fight for better wages and a stronger NHS, or SNP MPs who will fight for another independence referendum that Scotland doesn't want."

Ms Fyffe stated: "Budget savings achieved through pay restraint are being used to meet efficiency-saving targets for the NHS.

"The result is that NHS staff pay has fallen way behind the cost of living and many nursing staff are now struggling to survive on their pay packet.

"Nursing staff are facing mounting challenges - dealing with an unprecedented increase in demand and patients with increasingly complex needs - as well as chronic staff shortages and intensified workloads."

But SNP candidate for Glasgow South West Chris Stephens hit back and said: "Nurses working in the Scottish NHS are better off than their counterparts in Labour-run Wales or Tory run-England - to the tune of £312 a year for a newly qualified nurse."

He added: "The SNP enormously value the contribution made by nurses - which is why we have maintained bursaries for student nurses and free tuition that have been scrapped elsewhere in the UK, and why we guarantee no compulsory redundancies.

"We recognise that NHS staff at the top of their pay bands do see inflation outpacing uplifts - which is why the Scottish Government is committed to working with unions ahead of the next pay round.

"Labour's boomerang attack has only highlighted the fact that, when Labour run the NHS, they rip nurses off just like the Tories do."

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2017, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Andrew Milligan / PA Wire.