Labour claims 31 trusts trying to break with AfC ahead of Commons debate
The Labour Party has named 31 hospitals it claims are looking to reduce NHS staff terms and conditions ahead of a debate in the House of Commons later today.
As revealed by Nursing Times last week, the party has secured a crucial vote on the threat of regional pay in the health service and the actions of the South West Consortium of 20 trusts.
Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said moves to break away from Agenda for Change or reduce other terms and conditions was spreading across the country, and risked the fragmentation of the NHS.
He has called on the government to make its position clear on NHS pay.
On top of the 20 trusts involved in the South West Consortium, Labour has named 11 others it says are considering their own actions.
The list includes North Tees and Hartlepool Foundation Trust, which plans to 5,500 staff and re-hire them on reduced terms and conditions. Neighbouring South Tees trust has said it is exploring similar actions.
Sunderland City Hospitals Foundation Trust has frozen pay for any staff who do not receive an annual appraisal or complete certain training modules.
Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys Foundation Trust is freezing pay increments for staff who do not complete seven mandatory training modules, or who do not receive an appraisal in a 12-month period.
Oxford Health Foundation Trust is withdrawing a cost of living allowance and Christmas payments while Mid Cheshire Hospitals Foundation Trust has confirmed it is looking at change sick pay terms and conditions.
Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust have both tried to impose new rules to defer incremental pay rises if staff had been off sick.
University Hospital of South Manchester Foundation Trust has included changes to terms and conditions in its three year plan.
Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust has said it could move away from Agenda for Change and Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals Foundation Trust had attempted to impose reduced terms and conditions for new non-medical employees, but withdrew these plans after union pressure.
Mr Burnham said: “The NHS is fragmenting before our eyes. National pay is part of what holds our national service together. It is being broken apart and ministers are doing absolutely nothing about it.
“It is essential the health secretary comes to the Commons and clears up the confusion about government policy on NHS pay. Staff deserve to know where they stand.”
A spokesperson for health secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “It was under the last Labour government that NHS trusts were given the freedom to determine their own pay and conditions, so it is completely disingenuous for them to criticise the process now.”
Unions have said trusts looking to break with the national pay framework are undermining negotiations and have called on MPs to show their support in the Parliamentary vote.
Christina McAnea, head of health at Unison, said: “Rogue elements, such as the South West ‘cartel’ are acting irresponsibly and stirring up fear and industrial unrest among their workforce.
“This is spreading across the NHS like a plague and causing massive anger and worry for staff who just want to get on with their job of caring for patients,” she said.
“National pay bargaining has a proven track record of keeping the industrial peace and we need MPs to back it.”
Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, added: “It is time for MPs across the country to speak up for nurses and reject regional pay.
“Regional pay will not save the economy. The impact on patients will be substantial and they will be severe, creating a skills drain in local areas and putting patient care at risk.”