JUNIOR doctors in Scotland will be offered the “biggest ever pay uplift” in an effort to avert strikes later this month, Humza Yousaf has said.

It comes as the Scottish Government confirmed senior NHS staff will be given a 6% pay increase following negotiations with the Doctors and Dentists Pay Review Body.

The uplift is being hailed by the First Minister as the biggest since devolution as he promised an offer for junior staff that could amount to “thousands of pounds”.

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The British Medical Association (BMA) announced junior doctors would walk out between July 12 and 15 after rejecting a 14.5% increase over two years.

The offer was initially described as the “best and final” deal from the Scottish Government, but as he marked the 75th anniversary of the NHS during a visit to Forth Valley Hospital in Larbert, near Falkirk, the First Minister said he planned to meet with the BMA on Tuesday to discuss a new offer.

The National: Humza Yousaf

He said: “I’m prepared to offer junior doctors the biggest ever uplift seen in the history of devolution, and if accepted, it would put thousands of pounds into the pockets of our junior doctors and they will be worth every single penny.”

Yousaf said the plans would only be discussed with junior doctors but said methods could include going above and beyond a one-year pay rise, or reforming contracts and working conditions.

He added: “There isn’t, I’m afraid, money down the back of the sofa, I think people know that given the difficult financial constraints that the Government is operating under.”

It comes after Yousaf chaired a resilience meeting with senior ministers and health bosses to plan contingencies in the event of the expected strikes.

The First Minister told journalists the walkouts could be “hugely significant”, resulting in “potentially tens of thousands of patients being affected and having their procedures cancelled”.

When asked if he was confident that junior doctors would accept an improved offer, he said: “I think it’s 50/50 if I’m being honest.

“I don’t think it’s a done deal by any stretch of the imagination. I think it’s going to be a challenging negotiation given where we know the BMA are and what we’re able to afford.

“But I do believe the BMA, absolutely, when they say they want to do everything they can to avoid industrial action.”

Following the resilience meeting, Dr Chris Smith, chair of the BMA’s Scottish junior doctors committee, said: “Junior doctors in Scotland have consistently and strongly made clear that the pay offers made so far by the Scottish Government are not yet sufficient to demonstrate a commitment to reverse the years of pay erosion we have suffered, which has seen pay reduced by 28.5% since 2008.

“No-one can seriously argue a junior doctor today is worth that much less than a counterpart 15 years ago. Indeed, our members rejected the Scottish Government’s latest offer decisively.

“Unless we act now and invest in the future of the workforce, we will go on losing doctors to places they are valued properly, compromising the care we can provide to the people of Scotland now and in the future.”

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The pay deal for senior NHS staff, which will be backdated to April 1 2023, will see a consultant at the bottom of the pay scale see a rise of £5,488 and £7,292 for those at the top.

It builds on the 4.5% pay uplift awarded in 2022, taking the total increase to 10.5% in two years.