A nurse has accused the Scottish Government of “spitting” on her profession by paying dental hygienists, optometrists and doctors five times more for giving vaccinations.
Jane McCallum has criticised a deal struck by ministers in November which allows NHS boards to give contractors £230 per three-and-a-half-hour shift – the equivalent of £66 per hour – at inoculation centres.
General practice nurses, meanwhile, are receiving as little as £13 an hour to do exactly the same job while often having to train the rookie vaccinators.
Jane, 64, an experienced practice and travel health nurse who is vaccinating people at Edinburgh’s Queen Margaret University Hospital, said: “This discrepancy in pay for getting everyone vaccinated is an insult to the nursing profession.
“Nurses have been told we’re doing a wonderful job in the pandemic but this feels like being spat on.
“I was working alongside a dental hygienist who had never done it before so I taught her how to vaccinate.
“Yet she was getting paid many times more than me.”
The Daily Record reports that some contractors who are understood to have never injected patients before are earning more than £920 for working 14-hour shifts – a rate that is supposed to cover travel and food expenses.
But nurses are earning a fraction of that while incurring the same costs.
Jane added: “Our nurses finish a shift having earned around £100 while others with hardly any experience can walk out with almost £1000 – and that’s for vaccinating far fewer people.
“What’s the Scottish Government going to do about this apparent error of judgement? Inspire another clap in the street?
“We hear it said the pandemic is like a war effort but it doesn’t feel like that when some people are making so much money from the NHS through the need to vaccinate the country urgently.
“There should be a standard rate to vaccinate – whoever you are.We are in crisis and there should be equal pay for equal work
“Can Scotland’s NHS really afford these rates of pay when some people are waiting years for a hip replacement?
“This is causing great unrest on the front lines among what should be a feeling of a mutually supportive team pulling together.
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“The morale of NHS nurses is being put in serious jeopardy.”
Health Secretary Jeane Freeman announced last month the country would need 3400 vaccinators and Government officials insisted it was “vital” as many health and social care staff as possible joined the effort.
But the Royal College of Nursing Scotland and opposition politicians have criticised discrepancies in pay rates.
Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said: “Our dedicated NHS nurses have the skill and experience to be at the forefront of Scotland’s vaccine delivery.
“It is understandable they would feel aggrieved seeing others, with less experience of vaccinating people, being drafted in but receiving significantly higher rates of pay.
“In a rush to recruit vaccinators, perhaps the SNP Government failed to apply proper scrutiny to the deals they struck.
“Sidelining nurses is illogical and it’s concerning to hear how much this has damaged morale.
“I would urge the First Minister to listen to the nurses’ concerns and address these pay anomalies.
“Nurses should be treated with respect and their valuable role should be central to the great UK and Scottish success story of our vaccination programme.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The establishment of a mass Covid-19 vaccination programme is a huge undertaking and one that has required us to mobilise and have available a large, capable and diverse workforce as quickly as possible.
“It remains vital that as many people as possible are available to staff these centres.
“All staff employed to work on the programme are paid in accordance with nationally set terms and conditions and are working to agreed job roles, which come with specified rates of pay.”
There have also been reports that shifts have been cancelled at vaccination centres due to decreased supply of inoculation shots.
The Scottish Government said the vaccination programme was “delivering ahead of expectations”.
A spokesman added: “We are immensely grateful to every single person who has offered their services as a vaccinator.
“We know that they share our drive for getting vaccines into arms as quickly as possible.
“Our vaccination programme will flex to respond to supply – with regards to staffing levels and to ensure delivery of second doses to those most at risk of serious illness and death, including the elderly in care homes in the coming days and weeks, so their protection levels are maximised.
“As the First Minister and Health Secretary indicated last week, we are expecting less supply over the next few weeks so it is to be expected there will be less vaccinations than in previous days.”