The responsibility for health matters – including NHS pay – is devolved and within the responsibility of the Scottish Parliament. However, I understand how important the nursing profession is to the wider community in Scotland and the tireless work they do in ensuring the NHS continues to be a success.
Against the background of substantial cuts in Scotland’s budget from Westminster, the SNP Scottish Government will continue to give NHS staff in Scotland a better deal than in other parts of the UK. The Scottish Government have accepted the independent NHS pay review recommendation, which means the 1% pay-rise coupled with the policy of ensuring NHS staff earning less than £22,000 can receive a financial top-up to ensure their salary rises by at least £400 means that health workers in Scotland have the highest pay rates in the UK.
In February 2016, Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, announced £3 million of funding to train an additional 500 advanced nurse practitioners, who will treat more people in the community and play an important role in the integrated health care of the future. The SNP Scottish Government are also completely committed to maintaining a nursing bursary and keeping nursing tuition free, which is in stark contrast to the Tory UK Government at Westminster. There will be a 5% increase in student nurse intake this year and it is this action from the SNP that ensures Scotland can continue to attract the best people to train for nursing and midwifery roles while a new fund of at least £1 million for nursing and midwifery students experiencing financial hardship has been launched by the Scottish Government.
Improving our NHS has been – and will remain – a key priority for the SNP in government, which is why they have ensured the NHS revenue budget rises by £500 million more than inflation by 2021 – an increase of almost £2 billion in total. My SNP colleagues both here and at Holyrood will continue to ensure the NHS remains fit for purpose, improving standards for our nurses and the entire NHS workforce as well as patients. We know that good quality healthcare is the cornerstone to a decent society and we will always strive to provide this for Scotland.