Scotland politics

NHS Scotland 'facing equal pay timebomb'

Hospital ward
Image caption The NHS said there had been no delay on its part in dealing with outstanding claims

A high number of equal pay claims in the Scottish health service means it faces a "financial timebomb", opposition parties have claimed.

There are 10,035 cases outstanding against health boards across the country, the Scottish government said.

Labour and the Conservatives have demanded action is taken quickly to deal with the cases.

The NHS said the cases were "unlikely" to succeed and insisted suggestions they had to be settled were misleading.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde has the largest number of unresolved claims, at 4,140, followed by NHS Ayrshire and Arran at 1,704 and NHS Lothian at 1,632.

The information was revealed in a parliamentary answer to Labour health spokeswoman Jackie Baillie.

"It is a disgrace that in 21st century Scotland, women still are having to fight to achieve equal pay in the public sector," she said.

"What is also more worrying is the financial timebomb that these claims pose for the NHS and the taxpayer."

According to the Conservatives, the health service has spent £586,475 on equal pay claims, averaging £4,159 per case.

Tory MSP Margaret Mitchell, said: "Instead of spending millions kicking this into the long grass, NHS boards, with the help of the Scottish government, should be facing up to these claims."

Ian Reid, chair of the NHS Scotland Equal Pay Reference Group, said: "Whilst it is correct that a large number of equal pay claims are outstanding, they are unlikely to succeed, and to suggest that they all require to be settled is misleading.

"The legal process completed so far indicates that if they were successful, any liability would be limited to a six-month period between 1 April 2004 and 31 October 2004 in the vast majority of cases."

Mr Reid also denied there had been a delay on the part of the NHS in dealing with the tribunal process.

He added: "As part of the process for making these claims the claimant is required to identify a male comparator and a contract term of the comparator showing that the male was paid more on the basis of gender.

"To date, none of the claimants have done this."

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