Nicola Sturgeon NHS gift paymentFirst Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced a ‘no strings attached’ £500 payment to all full-time NHS and social care worker.

She says this is to give recognition for the work carried out by front line staff during the COVID pandemic. On top of this she announced negotiations under way to increase pay for NHS staff.

However, the Scottish government doesn’t have the power to make the payment tax free. It called on Boris Johnson to ensure ‘NHS heroes’ are not taxed on their payment.

‘Those who have worked at the sharpest end of the COVID trauma deserve recognition now,’ Ms Sturgeon says.

‘The Scottish government will give every full time NHS and adult social care worker £500 as a one-off thank you payment. Those who work part time will get a proportionate share.

‘The money will be paid this financial year and is separate to any negotiations to payments in the longer term. There are no strings attached.

‘It is a demonstration of what we collectively owe you (NHS workers).’

‘Decade of pay restraint’

Despite the ‘gift’, BDA Scotland says this is no substitute for long-term commitments to above-inflation pay rewards.

The payment could benefit up to 300,000 workers, costing the Scottish government around £180m.

However, many healthcare associations are criticising the move as tokenism after a decade of pay restraint.

‘We are pleased to see some recognition for frontline staff,’ Robert Donald, chair of the British Dental Association’s Scottish Council said.

‘But £500 will not make up for a decade of pay restraint that’s hit colleagues in every NHS practice, hospital and clinic in Scotland.

‘If the Scottish Government really wants to say thank you to this service, then it will ensure pay cuts remain a thing of the past.’