NHS staff in Scotland are being offered a pay rise of at least 4%, the Scottish government has said.

It said the increase would benefit 154,000 NHS Agenda for Change employees – including nurses, paramedics, allied health professionals, as well as domestic, healthcare support staff, porters and other frontline health workers.

The move is in recognition of their “service and dedication” during the coronavirus pandemic, Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said.

She said the average pay of a frontline NHS nurse would rise by over £1,200 a year.

The pay offer will be backdated to 1 December last year.

Staff on pay bands 1 to 7 would receive at least a 4% pay rise compared with 2020/21, with workers earning less than £25,000 in 2020/21 guaranteed a minimum increase of more than £1,000 in 2021/22.

This means staff on the lowest pay point would get a 5.4% rise. Those on the highest pay points would receive uplifts of £800.

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Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted on Wednesday night: “Our NHS staff deserve more than applause and 1% is not enough.

“@scotgov is offering a 4% pay rise, which would deliver guaranteed minimum increase of £1,000 for those earning less than £25,000 & 5.4% increase for staff on lowest pay band…and all backdated to December 2020.”

The move comes after Ms Sturgeon in November announced a one-off £500 thank you bonus payment for all health and social care workers.

Ms Freeman said on Wednesday: “Following positive discussions with NHS unions and employees, the Scottish government has put forward an offer of the biggest single pay uplift since devolution for NHS Agenda for Change staff.”

She said the deal “includes support staff such as domestic staff, porters and healthcare support workers, the backbone of our services, who would see pay rises of over £1,000 – uplifts of between 4%-5.4%”.

Ms Freeman added: “This has been an exceptionally challenging year for our health service and I am pleased that the Scottish government is able to recognise the service and dedication of our healthcare staff.”

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PM praises ‘heroic’ NHS amid pay row

Boris Johnson earlier this month defended a proposed 1% pay rise for NHS staff in England.

The prime minister said: “What we have done is try to give them as much as we can at the present time.

“The independent pay review body will obviously look at what we’ve proposed and come back.”

He added: “Don’t forget that there has been a public sector pay freeze, we’re in pretty tough times.

“We’ve tried to give the NHS as much as we possibly can and that means, in addition to the £140bn of annual money, we’ve got another £62bn we’ve found to help support the NHS throughout the crisis.”

Commenting on the pay rise offer in Scotland, Sara Gorton of the UNISON union said: “This shows where there’s a political will there’s most definitely a way.

“Valuing health staff and investing in the NHS is a political choice. One that Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak are choosing not to make.

“After a long and difficult year, a decent pay rise for NHS staff should be a simple decision to make and popular with the public.

“The Westminster government should learn from the approach being adopted north of the border on NHS pay and be shamed into following the Scottish example.”