NURSES from two unions have voted to accept an increased pay offer from the Scottish Government and call off strikes.

Unite has confirmed its health membership voted "yes" by 64% to accept the improved offer tabled two weeks ago following positive discussions with Nicola Sturgeon, Health Secretary Humza Yousaf, the NHS and trade unions.

Strikes by Unite which were set to hit the Scottish Ambulance Service and the wider NHS are now off. 

Meanwhile, members of Scotland's largest NHS union Unison have voted to accept the pay offer, with 57% of NHS members voting "yes". 

The improved offer represents on average a 7.5% increase across NHS Scotland with up to 11.24% for the bottom pay bands.

The offer also includes a commitment to reduce the working week from 37.5 hours to 36 hours with no loss of pay.

Sharon Graham, Unite general secretary, said: “The improved offer for NHS Scotland workers which is worth over 11% for the lowest pay bands is a testament to the resolve of our members.

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"They were prepared to take the difficult step in taking industrial action but only because they had no other option left.

"Unite makes no apologies for fighting for better jobs, pay and conditions in the health service because NHS Scotland workers should be fairly rewarded for the outstanding work that they do day in and day out.”

A ballot for the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) closes on December 19 but the union has paused strike action for now while it consults members.

Wilma Brown, chair of Unison Scotland's health committee, said while the offer has been accepted, many members voted for it "reluctantly".

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She added: “Whilst this decision ends the immediate threat of industrial action, it is not a win for government, it is a warning.

"It was far from a unanimous decision and many of the NHS professional grades feel badly let down. Almost half of Unison NHS staff voted to reject this latest pay offer, and many who did vote to accept did so reluctantly.

The National: Humza Yousaf said he engaged tirelessly with unions and welcomes their acceptance of the offerHumza Yousaf said he engaged tirelessly with unions and welcomes their acceptance of the offer (Image: PA)

"The Cabinet Secretary has secured himself a pause in our members’ anger. He now needs to use the next pay round to resolve the understaffing, low staff morale, and pay.”

Yousaf added: “I welcome Unison and Unite members accepting this record pay offer. We have engaged tirelessly with trade union representatives over recent weeks, leaving no stone unturned to reach an offer which responds to the key concerns of staff across the service.

“This offer of over half a billion pounds underlines our commitment to supporting our fantastic NHS staff. A newly-qualified nurse would see a pay rise of 8.7%, and experienced nurses and would get uplifts of between £2450 and £2751.

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“We are making this offer at a time of extraordinary financial challenges to the Scottish Government to get money into the pockets of hard-working staff and to avoid industrial action, in what is already going to be an incredibly challenging winter.

“Constructive engagement is crucial, and I would urge the UK Government to get back to the negotiating table with the unions as we have done in Scotland.”

The resolution comes after RCN general secretary Pat Cullen told the BBC on Sunday that positive talks the union had with Sturgeon demonstrated how nurses are "not for digging in" in negotiations as she urged UK Health Secretary Steve Barclay to get round the table. 

Barclay met with nursing leaders on Monday with strikes by the RCN still set to go ahead in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland this week and next.

Barclay has made clear the UK Government’s position on pay remains unchanged though the RCN said it was hopeful the talks could be productive.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly told Laura Kuenssberg on Sunday that Barclay will continue to talk to nursing unions, but said there is a system in place around pay which means unions must discuss this with their employer, the NHS.