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  • You are here:Pay

Accept Agenda for Change pay increment freeze to keep your job, nurses told


Nurses would be offered immunity from redundancy if they agreed to have their Agenda for Change pay increments frozen under secret foundation trust plans.

Nursing Times is aware of foundation trusts across the country that are working on proposals to prevent staff from automatically moving up the Agenda for Change pay scale, or are lobbying the government to implement a national freeze.

“If we have a demoralised workforce, performance will suffer, quality will suffer, so it’s up to nurse leadership to make sure that doesn’t happen”

The increments are worth an annual 2.9 per cent increase to a nurse at the bottom of band 5 of the pay framework. This is on top of the inflation linked pay rise worth 2.25 per cent in 2010-11, which drops to zero next year.

Foundation trusts claim the increments cost them £360m a year - equivalent to the wages of 10,900 staff. The figures would be roughly double if all hospital and mental health trusts were included.

However, only foundation trusts are allowed to set their own terms and conditions.

Unison senior national officer Mike Jackson said stopping increments would be a breach of contract.

He warned: “A mixture of legal action and industrial action would follow. This is not a way to proceed.”

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One trust, which spoke to sister magazine Health Service Journal anonymously, is proposing to offer staff job guarantees if they forego increments.

Beachcroft solicitors employment team partner Guy Bredenkamp confirmed such a move would be legal.

However, he added: “To introduce a freeze, you’d need either a national agreement or a local agreement with staff side.

“This presupposes agreement with the unions. There’s absolutely no sign that would be forthcoming.”

Queen Margaret University professor Jim Buchan also had reservations, saying the plan would put nurses under “undue pressure to sign up to something that otherwise they wouldn’t wish to” and would be “quite divisive”.

However, the chief executive of a foundation trust said he was prepared to “push the button” on increment freezes.

As revealed in Nursing Times last year, some trusts are already restricting incremental pay to staff who take too many days off sick or fail to attend mandatory training sessions.

Alison Leary, University College London Hospital Foundation Trust Macmillan senior lecturer in oncology, said senior nurses should resist attempts to withhold pay.

She said: “If we have a demoralised workforce, performance will suffer, quality will suffer, so it’s up to nurse leadership to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

Foundation trust plans to freeze staff pay emerged as the BBC Panorama programme and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism published data revealing more than 26,000 NHS bosses earned more than £100,000 a year.

Nursing Times’ analysis of the data found the highest paid nurse managers are more likely to work at foundation trusts and were disproportionately men.

Only 63 of the 26,000 highest NHS earners in the list are directors of nursing, executive directors of nursing or chief nurses.

More than half of those were employed by acute foundation hospital trusts and only 16 came from non foundation acute trusts. There were four strategic health authority nurse managers and four employed by primary care trusts.

Among the high earning nurse managers whose gender was known, 23 per cent at acute trusts were men, even though men make up just 8 per cent of the acute nursing workforce. This adds weight to a Nursing Times investigation that found men were disproportionately represented in top nursing jobs.

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Nurses respond to calls for pay freeze  


Readers' comments (50)

  • This is absolutely ridiculous, why yet again penalise the hard working staff who do not get any other rewards. As for mandatory training if there was enough staff in departments then we would not have problems attending the mandatory training, there is never any money to attend courses we have to either fund ourselves or write to reps for sponsorship ie begging letters. We all do extra hours to bring in a bit of extra money and to keep the service running to maintain targets. What about targeting the fat managers and excecitives who spend there time at meetings but don't seem to acheive much and use NHS company cars! Use your own cars like the workhorses have to. Stop bring in all these expensive consortiums to do cost ut exercises to give advice on how to save money they cost the NHS millions and suggest ridiculous ways of saving money which involves staff cuts. The NHS has too many highly paid managers the front line hands on are the salt of the NHS they should not be penilised, however the serial sickies should be targeted not the genuine sick staff who have good reason for there sickness which can be proved. Don't leave the staff poor and destitute yet again,somebody decided on a new pay structure to compensate us now your trying to destroy it and use it to penilise us. STOP THIS NOW

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  • How much money is spent in the NHS paying locum staff (all grades) nearly twice the rate if a full time equivelant. Then there is the matter of travelling and course expenses paid out to medical staff which in most trusts very few Nurses actually get paid.
    Recent moves by Trusts to "economise and streamline" management seem to all have the same number of managereal staff and the attendant support staff as pre "streamlining.
    There must also be a question why Trusts are still increasing the number of Consultants (plus support) they are employing without any real increase to the number of patients they are dealing with. Surely that alone is increasing the cost to the NHS of the Service those extra Consultants are employing

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  • Yet again the nurses are being held to ransom. The majority of nurses are already struggling to keep up with inflation. cost of living is soaring with no let up predicted for 5 years. We work hard and support our organisations by doing all those extra things that ensure that it conitnues to work. If we all stopped putting in the extra time, doing the things that weren't officially part of our jobs we know the system would fail. It would require additional staff in posts to make it do so. we try to ensure that training mandatory and required is given and supportive, but this is getting harder to do due to staff shortages and the hard push to always put the service first. A demoralised workforce will result in less commitment and willingnesss to do that litta, will lead to staff having to do bank or agency outside their Trle extrusts to be able to financially keep up with cost of living and will result in tired staff and increased sickness. Managers wake up....... we are already doing more and getting less.

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  • how accurate are these figures they have quoted. there are a lot of nurses out there who do not get increments as they are at the top of the pay band and have not had an increment for several years. I agree that it is wrong to penalise nurses yet again and that the management should honour there part of the contracts that we are employed on. We are also over represented by managers both in the hoapital services and the community services

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  • I thought front line staff were being protected anyway? Has this changed now?

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  • As usual, lower paid staff are getting squeezed whilst the highly-paid just get more and more. Its madness!

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  • What a suprise...what goes around, comes around. Those of us who were working for the NHS in the 80s have seen this all before. Any managers or government cronies who read this blog ( although I doubt you do) need to take note....this kind of treatment was what fueled a mass exodus of nurses from the UK. I was one of them and headed to the US (where I now wish I had stayed). The rise of the foundation trust is the last step on the road to a fully privatised service. I would bet my measly increments on that. By 2020 there will be an NHS is name only. Roll on retirement- although I'm pretty sure our pansions will be the next thing to be targeted.

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  • sounds like blackmail and use of nurses as pawns in the spokes of the wheels of the political machinery

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  • It's time to re-look at the top managers pay and terms and conditions, what these people are paid is wrong, it's unfair and they certainly are not doing the job that they are paid to do. Take money off them, not the lower paid!

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  • Dino-nurse is so right. The 80's as far as I am concerned started the slow death of the NHS.
    What we must remember is that those in charge of the management cost cutting are those who should be cut!
    In my organization the percentage of senior posts has statisitically INCREASED and those most at risk are clinicians.
    One question - are medics and dentists also being asked to take a pay and 'bonus' freeze?

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