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Band 8 and 9 staff in Scotland earn at least 11 per cent more than their colleagues in England, it has emerged, in a gap that has widened with successive Agenda for Change pay deals.

Pay scales for 2023-24 show band 8a staff in England earn £50,952 at the first entry point compared to £56,992 over the border.

This increases to 13 per cent at band 8b – £58,972 to £67,285 – and gradually reduces to 11 per cent at 8c, 8d and 9.

The discrepancy is significantly smaller at bands 5, 6 and 7 but staff in Scotland still earn more than those in England.

The issue is longstanding and was exacerbated by recent settlements made by the English and Scottish governments.

The 2022-23 Agenda for Change deal saw band 8s and 9s receive a lower proportionate increase to others, which was not reversed in the following deal.

Contrast that with Scotland where these bands received larger payments awards and a 5 per cent uplift for band 8s. Negotiations this year have further widened the gap, too.

Even with the discrepancy, Managers in Partnership warns both sets of staff face “many of the same problems”.

(Deliberately) lonely at the top

There can be no doubt that West Midlands Ambulance Service University Foundation Trust is one of the top performing organisations in the NHS. It is rated “outstanding” – the only ambulance trust to be so – and performs well on most measures, despite a persistent problem with ambulance handover delays at local hospitals.

But a report by the Good Governance Institute suggests its Achilles Heel may be relationships with other NHS organisations. “Insular,” “uncompromising” and “dismissive” were some of the words used to describe how the trust’s engagement with partners could feel.

None of this is a surprise to those who watch WMAS regularly: it can be fiercely protective of its reputation and probably would not be the first organisation to come to mind as a team player. But, in an era when collaboration and partnership working are seen as the key to being well-regarded by NHS England, it is surprising that change has not come sooner.

This week’s board papers suggest that the trust is addressing this with a greater emphasis on collaboration and friendlier conversations with other trusts. Let’s hope more cordial relationships can endure through what might be another tough winter.

Also on today

Dr Raihan Mohammed empathises on how strikes disrupt the delicate balance of financial stability, national targets, staff morale and clinical care, while also advocating that industrial action is the only effective way to enact change for junior doctors, staff and patients. And in Recovery Watch, we analyse how much damage the toughest week yet of strike action has done to the recovery effort.