A REVISED pay offer for NHS staff in Scotland has been branded "deeply insulting" and a "kick in the teeth" by trade unions, amid growing fears that the health service will be hit by mass industrial action this winter.

The Government and NHS staff have been locked in talks in recent weeks after Health Secretary Humza Yousaf promised to table a "significantly improved" pay offer. 

The Scottish Government announced today that NHS staff would get a flat rate uplift in their salaries of £2,205 each - equivalent to an average pay rise of 7%, or 11% for the lowest paid. The previous NHS pay offer was 5%. 

If agreed, the increase would be added to pay cheques before Christmas and backdated to April. 

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The offer applies to staff such as midwives, nurses, physiotherapists and other NHS-employed healthcare staff, but not to doctors, GPs or dentists who negotiate pay separately.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN), which is currently balloting its members over strike action, said the latest offer represents a real terms pay cut for registered nurses.

The union had pushed for an offer of at least 5% above inflation.

RCN Scotland director Colin Poolman said: "This offer fails to recognise the clinical skill, expertise and leadership of registered nurses.

"It will do nothing to address the staffing crisis, the life-threatening delays we are seeing at emergency departments or the lengthy waiting lists for treatment across Scotland's NHS.

"Our ballot for strike action continues."

Unison said it would put the offer to its members, but continues to encourage them to vote for industrial action in its current ballot - due to close on October 31.

Wilma Brown, the chairwoman of the Unison Health Committee, said it believed the flat rate offer "will help all staff meet at least some of the cost-of-living crisis we are all facing".

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Alex MacKenzie, chair of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, said the revised offer means that some physiotherapists would end up worse off than if they had accepted the 5% pay offer. 

She said: "We welcome additional support for the lowest paid members of our NHS workforce, especially in a time of such high inflation. 

"But it is simply a kick in the teeth to come back with an offer that is actually lower than the one already rejected for a substantial number of our members. 

"For our vital experienced and expert clinicians, this new offer equates to 4.6% or lower – well below the 5% that members have already emphatically rejected."

The Royal College of Midwives said the revised offer was "disappointing and deeply insulting" as it urged the Scottish Government to rethink its position.

Jaki Lambert, director for Scotland at the RCM, said: “This is not the substantially increased offer promised by the Scottish government and it will be very, very disappointing news for midwives across the country.

"It is designed to make them and NHS staff think they are getting something, when in reality they are getting very little.

"They and their colleagues will not be fooled by this tiny carrot that the Scottish Government is dangling in front of them.” 

The RCM is currently balloting its members in Scotland on industrial action over pay with the ballot due to close on October 27.

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Mr Yousaf heralded the pay offer as the largest in Scotland since devolution.

He said: "The offer would mean the lowest paid seeing a rise of more than 11%, with qualified nursing staff receiving up to 8.45%, helping the lowest paid staff through the cost of living crisis.

"If agreed, the pay uplift, which amounts to almost half a billion pounds (£480 million), will benefit more than 160,000 employees including nurses, paramedics, allied health professionals and healthcare support staff.

"This is the largest pay offer given to NHS Scotland Agenda for Change staff since devolution and will mean they remain the best paid in the UK."