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Why are we waiting for our pay rise?; Nurses fury at Chisholm delay.

Byline: LINDSAY McGARVIE EXCLUSIVE

HEALTH minister Malcolm Chisholm has been accused of refusing to release cash for a nurses' pay rise - four months after he announced it.

And the delay has seriously damaged relations between the NHS and 53,000 Scottish nurses, according to one of their representatives.

Many have had to take second jobs with nursing agencies to make up the shortfall in NHS wages.

The Independent Federation of Nurses says others have left the service for jobs in England and private hospitals because of the delay.

Back in April a pay rise of 10 per cent over three years was announced. But four months on not a penny extra has been paid.

Health boards across the country could not pay the increase - an extra Pounds 532-a-year for a junior nurse - until they got the go-ahead from Chisholm.

That letter was not sent out from the Executive until June 19, despite Labour's vow of a nurses' pay increase during the Scottish Parliament election campaign.

Most nursing staff will get the increased salary in their wage packets at the end of this month.

The Executive have pledged to backdate the increase to April 1.

But the vast majority will not get arrears until the end of August - a wait of five months.

Irenee O'Neill, leader of the Independent Federation of Nurses said: "I find it incredible that the Scottish Executive continues to pontificate about how much they value the NHS and its nurses yet they can treat them with such contempt when it comes to paying this increase."

It is estimated that there are 1900 nursing vacancies in Scotland.

And O'Neill said that by dragging his heels, Chisholm's actions "are diametrically opposed to boosting recruiting of more nurses and retaining existing workers".

She added: "A rise of 3.225 per cent a year isn't significant and we demand more.

"But if they expect to attract more staff they should have paid out the increase by now.

"For too many of my members that extra Pounds 40 or Pounds 50 is the difference between having to do extra shifts or private work in their spare time.

"And we can't blame some of them for leaving the service for work in other countries or in private hospitals when they are treated so shabbily."

A spokesman for the Scottish Executive health department said the authorisation didn't go out until the end of June because they were locked in negotiations with unions over other issues.

He said: "In the main all nurses should get the rise in their July pay packet if not in August. No one will lose out."

But Shona Robison, SNP health spokeswoman, hit out: "No wonder we are struggling to attract new nurses when we send out a message like this."

WAGE COMPARISON AFTER 5 YEARS

START SALARY AFTER 5YRS

Police Constable Pounds 18,666 Pounds 23,037

Teacher Pounds 21,588 Pounds 27,198

Firefighter Pounds 17,895 Pounds 22,392

Social worker Pounds 21,045 Pounds 25,527

Nurse Pounds 16,525 Pounds 18,240

MSPs would not wait for salary hike

JOAN DILLON expected to get her Pounds 35-a-month wage increase on April 1.

Four months later she has yet to see a penny.

The 38-year-old mum-of-one from Kirkintilloch earns just over Pounds 13,000- a-year as a nursing assistant at Overtoun Court, part of Greater Glasgow Primary Care Trust.

She said: "If this was a wage rise for MSPs, they wouldn't have to wait.

"Nurses haven't given up on our patients, but we have given up hope of getting a decent deal.

"The NHS exploits the fact that most of us don't go in to nursing for money alone, but because we care.

"Because of that, politicians know they can get away with giving us a raw deal like holding back our wage rise."
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Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jul 27, 2003
Words:638
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