One long-running NHS pay dispute looks set to be resolved, and industrial action in a second dispute has been suspended, following 'positive' talks between unions and managers.

At North Glasgow University Hospital trust, all industrial action was called off last week as 16 months of wrangling between medical secretaries and managers appeared to near an end.

Members of health union Unison recommended accepting a national framework pay agreement, which included some specific concessions to its medical secretaries.

The deal will mean that some secretaries will be able to apply for their posts to be re-graded . By Christmas, it is hoped that successful applicants should receive higher salaries along with payments back-dated to April 2001.

In some cases, this will represent a pay rise of up to 22 per cent above inflation over the next three years.

Trust human resources director Alan Boyter said: 'Under this agreement, secretaries at the trust who work at a higher level will enjoy the same benefits being offered under the national framework to other secretaries in Scotland. In common with other trusts, we will now set up a panel to consider individual requests so that those who are successful will receive their increases in time for Christmas.'

Unison has recommended accepting the deal and are now balloting members.

Meanwhile, industrial action among over 200 porters, cleaners and switchboard operators at Carlisle's private finance initiative-funded Cumberland Infirmary have been suspended following new developments this week.

Action including an overtime ban and refusal to work in public areas of the hospital followed claims by Unison and the GMB union that the trust operates a two-tier pay structure.

Unions said some staff enjoyed Whitley Council rates while others are paid according to contacts with one of the PFI partners, Interserve, which do not include enhanced rates for working weekends.

On Monday, GMB official Helen Vassie said: 'We have suspended industrial action as of today following some positive moves forward from both management and the union. It is looking quite favourable.'

Staff and managers are due to meet again within the next three weeks.