A NURSE in Scotland will be almost £240 better off on average than their English counterpart, the Scottish Government has boasted, after it decided to grant a 1% pay deal to all NHS staff.
South of the Border, increases of 1% will be given to some staff in the NHS from April but the UK Government will not grant the pay deal to hundreds of thousands of public health workers who are on so-called progression pay; annual hikes for time served.
Trade unions denounced the deal in England and threatened strike action. Alex Neil, the Scottish Health Secretary, insisted Edinburgh's decision to accept the NHS pay review body's recommendation in full meant NHS staff in Scotland would get a better deal than their counterparts south of the Border.
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He said all NHS staff groups in Scotland would receive a 1% pay hike and that the pay of those earning under £21,000 would be supplemented to ensure they received a total rise of £300.
David Cameron's spokesman said: "As a result of the decisions that have been made with regard to the NHS in England, there is £200 million more available in 2014/5 to go on the front line. I'll leave it to the First Minister to explain why that isn't the case in Scotland."
Mr Cameron stressed that taking into account the 1% pay rise as well as incremental pay, then everyone in the English NHS would get "at least a 1% pay rise".
But trade unions responded angrily. Unison said the Coalition's decision had shown "complete contempt" for NHS staff in England while the GMB said the blocking of a full 1% pay rise was a "personal insult" to NHS staff and made clear preparations would be made for a ballot on industrial action.