Scottish NHS pay deal still awaiting government sign-off

Agenda for Change trade unions and professional bodies reached agreement with government early last year, but delays continue

Published: 01 February 2024 Government & NHS

Scottish workers under the Agenda for Change pay system are still awaiting their new deal, despite assurances it would be implemented last September. 

Trade unions and professional bodies representing the Agenda for Change (AfC) workforce in Scotland, including the SoR, reached agreement with the Scottish government over where its priorities should lie in the 23/24 pay deal early last year.

However, the programme still awaits implementation from the government, leading the Society to raise concerns over continuing delays and a lack of action.

In February of 2023, the Scottish Terms and Conditions Committee (STAC), which exists to collectively negotiate terms and conditions issues for some NHS Scotland staff, reached agreement with the Scottish government on the 23/24 pay deal.

This deal included not only an investment of £568 million in the Agenda for Change (AfC) pay, but also included recommendations on a reduced working week, protected learning, and a review of Band 5 nursing job profiles.

The offer further commits to modernise Agenda for Change to support workforce recruitment, sustainability and retention.

‘Deeply disappointing’

The expectation was that these recommendations would be put into effect in September 2023. But, as of yet, there has been no sign off from the government.

In December, members of the STAC met with Michael Matheson MSP, cabinet secretary for NHS Recovery, Health, and Social Care, to discuss these delays. 

Mr Matheson said financial challenges had prevented the government from committing to long-term funding, and that any public sector pay metric implementation would depend on decisions taken by the UK government in the Spring Budget on 6 March.

In response, STAC leadership said: “There is significant unease amongst unions and professional organisations that as we enter February 2024 and the new financial year your government has failed to provide the agreed delivery plan.”

The STAC added that it expected an implementation plan without further delay, with the elements identified above in place by April 1 2024.

Yvonne Stewart, SoR Scottish national officer, said: “This is deeply disappointing, to say the least. The STAC pay negotiation team worked hard to achieve the 23/24 settlement - and yet here we are, on the brink of 24/25, with such significant issues outstanding from 23/24.

“Our members accepted the 23/24 offer in good faith. We know they work long hours and despite the current harsh economic climate, continue to give the strongest professional commitment to patients. They deserve better than this poor show.

“Dialogue does continue, with STAC Staffside making it clear to Michael Matheson, the Cabinet Secretary, that we need to see the AfC Review group recommendations ratified and rolled out and we need a schedule of dates for 24/25 pay talks."

Awaiting timely and meaningful talks

Dialogue between staffside and the Cabinet Secretary continues, with STAC working hard to ensure that commitments given during the last pay deal are honoured.

Ms Stewart remains a member of the STAC pay negotiation team and will provide prompt updates on developments as dialogue continues. She also encouraged radiographers to contact her directly with any questions or comments. 

Staffside continues to await the Cabinet Secretary’s commitment to timely and meaningful talks.

(Image: Yvonne Stewart)