FMQs: Nicola Sturgeon says 'faux anger' will not fix Scotland NHS problems as nursing and midwife strikes loom
It was confirmed on Wednesday nurses across Scotland were preparing to go on strike early next year after an “overwhelming” majority of members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Scotland rejected the Scottish Government’s latest pay offer.
The RCN will announce potential strike dates in early 2023. The offer from the Scottish Government on the table would have amounted to an average pay rise of about 7.5 per cent.
The offer was also rejected by nearly two-thirds of Royal College of Midwives (RCM) members.
Ms Sturgeon confirmed health secretary Humza Yousaf would be meeting with trade union leaders on Friday.
But Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar used First Minister’s Questions on Thursday to stress the Scottish Government’s ‘catch-up plan’ for the NHS has failed patients and staff. He listed a string of key targets he claimed had been “failed” by Ms Sturgeon and her health secretary, including on waiting times.
Ms Sturgeon responded: “Sound bites and faux anger will not address the challenges in the health service. Patients and the public have a right to be angry and frustrated right now, but they also have a right to expect a Government that is addressing these issues.
"I am not and haven’t stood here and suggested there are not significant and over recent months increasing challenges on the NHS, and therefore on the performance measures that we have in the National Health Service.”
Ahead of Friday’s meeting, Ms Sturgeon stressed the latest pay offer rejected by NHS staff had been “maximised”.
“Just as has been the case up until now, we will do everything we can to avoid industrial action in our NHS,” she said. “We have, unlike England, Wales and Northern Ireland, so far avoided industrial action in our health service.
“We want to obviously avoid the disruption that will bring to patients across the country, but because we value those who work in our NHS and I want to make sure they get the best possible pay rise that we can give them.
“We have maximised what we can do within this financial year.”
He said: “Over Christmas, thousands of NHS staff will be working when most of us will be spending time with our family and friends.
“They all deserve our thanks for the work they are doing to keep this NHS going over winter, and all year round.
“But our health services heroes deserve more than just thanks. They deserve better pay and conditions.
“Trade unions are not just striking about pay. They are warning about patient safety and conditions in our hospitals.
“More than a year ago, the Health Secretary announced a catch-up plan for our NHS. But things are getting worse for patients.”
Mr Sarwar said: “Over Christmas, thousands of NHS staff will be working when most of us will be spending time with our family and friends. They all deserve our thanks for the work they are doing to keep this NHS going over winter, and all year round.
“But our health services heroes deserve more than just thanks. They deserve better pay and conditions.”
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