SCOTLAND'S Health Secretary has committed to “meaningful dialogue” with NHS unions as he pushes to implement the “record” pay deal with those that accepted.

Humza Yousaf met with representatives from trade unions on Friday to discuss an ongoing dispute within the health sector over pay.

The pay increase described by Yousaf as the “best and final” offer has been accepted by Unite and Unison.

However, the GMB union, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) and Royal College of Midwives (RCM) rejected the offer.

READ MORE: Michael Gove slated for 'short-sighted' cuts to funding for Ukrainian refugees

Yousaf said he will now push on with the Action for Change deal which will see wages rise by an average of 7.5%, with those on the lowest pay packages seeing an increase of 11.3%.

However, following the meeting with union leaders, he has been clear that there is no additional money that can be added to the 2022/23 pay deal – but promised to make early progress on next year’s pay deal.

He said: “Given that the majority of unions representing the majority of unionised Action for Change staff have accepted the pay deal, we will now move to implement this record pay deal.

“We believe it is right to get additional money into the pay packet of NHS staff in the midst of a cost of living crisis.

“NHS staff need the certainty of a pay uplift in this financial year, and I can only do this by implementing the deal now.”

He added: “I am absolutely committed to meaningful dialogue with trade unions in order to avert strike action and am prepared to meet throughout the festive period to continue that dialogue.

“I need to be upfront and honest that I have no more money for pay in 2022/23, however, I am keen to discuss how we make progress on significant non-pay issues that are important for the sustainability of the workforce, and also how we make early progress on next year’s pay deal.”

The offer was overwhelmingly rejected by RCN staff, with 82% of the ballot, while nearly two-thirds of midwifery staff rejected it.

The threat of strike action looms from the unions who rejected the pay offer in the new year, with the Health Secretary saying he was committed to avoiding the historic walkouts.