SCOTLAND must prepare for “unprecedented strikes in the NHS” unless the Government coughs up more cash for its workers, a union has warned.

On Friday, Unite members rejected the latest pay offer made by NHS Scotland, with 74% of its members telling the union they felt the Scottish Government’s offer did not go far enough.

It means workers across the health service, including those in the ambulance service, estates, medical equipment management and theatre roles, could walk out with Unite having warned that strikes were inevitable now members backed industrial action.

On Thursday, Finance Secretary John Swinney insisted Holyrood had “nowhere else to go” to increase wages beyond their latest offer, but the union’s industrial officer, James O’Connell, warned the MSP he needed “to prepare for unprecedented strikes in the NHS”.

“I would suggest the Scottish Government look again at their sums because our members are determined and united and will fight relentlessly for a decent pay rise across the board for all workers in the NHS,” he said.

READ MORE: Labour panned for 'shameful' move in Edinburgh Council scrutiny row

“Our members have nothing to lose and everything to gain.”

The pay offer put forward was described as a “very substantial deal” by Mr Swinney, and he said it represented a 7% rise for health staff on average and “over 11%” for lower earners.

His comments came in light of the Scottish Government’s emergency budget review on Wednesday, when he announced a further £615 million of spending cuts.

This included £400 million of spending “reprioritisation” within the health and social care sector to support a pay offer for staff.

But Unite said the pay offer fell below the rate of inflation which, according to the Retail Price Index measure, has reached a 40-year high of 12.6%.

Sharon Graham, Unite’s general secretary, said the dispute had “escalated as a direct result of the Scottish Government failing to dig deep enough to make sure these vital workers are paid a wage that reflects the work they do and the value they bring to our health service”.

READ MORE: Perth shop owner blasted over 'racist' Facebook post

She added: “We were all indebted to these workers during the pandemic yet now they are being denied a pay increase that would help them through the worst cost-of-living crisis in decades.”

Her union said it had considered the flat rate pay rise and said its research found that “some workers would be considerably worse off”.