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Local threats to Agenda for Change continue

A draft deal on Agenda for Change has seen some trusts abandon plans to leave the national pay agreement – but others remain committed to breaking away, Nursing Times has learnt.

Unions agreed draft proposals to change AfC with the NHS Employers organisation, which represents trusts, on 9 November, as revealed on

The proposals would see significant reductions in terms and conditions for NHS staff on Agenda for Change in England. But they are viewed as necessary by unions to maintain a national level agreement in the face of mounting attempts to breakaway from AfC.   

Nursing Times has learnt that the South West Pay, Terms and Conditions Consortium, the group of trusts that was leading the breakaway, is pressing ahead with plans to leave AfC.

However, unions may draw hope after one of its members dropped out last week. The Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals Foundation Trust decided to leave the consortium after the announcement that unions had accepted the draft national proposals from employers.

Chief executive Tony Spotswood said the trust was “encouraged” by the development and wanted to see the national talks continue.

But the consortium told Nursing Times that while disappointed to lose a member its work would go on. The group of 19 trusts hope to produce a business plan by the end of this year, setting out reductions to staff pay, terms and conditions in a bid to cut the overall pay bill in the region.

Meanwhile, North Tees and Hartlepool Foundation Trust also told Nursing Times it would continue for the time being with its consultation on plans to sack its 5,540 staff and re-hire them on reduced terms and conditions.

Trust director of human resources Clare Curran said: “The national proposal hasn’t yet been accepted. It is our understanding the details are still being worked through, therefore it wouldn’t be appropriate to stop our consultation until we are able to fully consider any final deal.”

But some trusts named this month by Labour as considering breaking away from AfC have told Nursing Times they will now back the national process.

A spokeswoman for South Tees Hospitals Foundation Trust said: “The trust remains supportive of the nationally determined Agenda for Change terms and conditions and hopes that the flexibilities being sought nationally are agreed.”

Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust chair Sue Davis said the trust now had no plans to move away from the national Agenda for Change framework.

Unions are currently deciding on how to consult with members on the draft proposals to change AfC.

If adopted, the deal would see the end of automatic incremental pay rises – which will instead be linked to performance – the removal of preceptorship payments for newly qualified nurses, and the end of enhanced out of hours sick pay.

Readers' comments (14)

  • tinkerbell

    Oh come on Unions, we're in shit so thick you could stir it with a stick. Is this really the best you can do for us?

    On the other hand maybe you're thinking' if we put this to a ballot we will be in an even weaker position considering the last turn out debacle and this is the best we can hope for under the circumstances. Who could blame you?

    I really don't know anymore but if between now and January we have made no progress i will be withdrawing my union payments.

    I would rather give that money to charity.

    The cavalry aren't going to save us, come on nurses of the land, take a stand.

    Let's all contact our unions and tell them what we want, we want to keep our terms and conditions as were and if that ain't gonna happen then we will take industrial action. Make it so.

    Unfortunately, the great British Moan on this occasion is not going to cut it.

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  • I am becoming more and more disheartened every time I hear or read about how the local trusts are trying their best to squeeze every last penny and as a result we are constantly caught in the firing line. Striking seems to get so much negative press that its not worth it. I have signed petitions but I am left feeling like its a waste of time. They won't be happy until they have stripped all our benefits the little we have in our role.

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  • As I understand it the changes are down to people actually turning up and doing their job. That is to say removing unsocial hours when someone is off sick (makes sense as they're not working unsocial hours) and people having to be half decent at their job to get the annual increment.

    Why is this so controversial? Or is it more to do with the concept of altering AfC conditions?

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  • Anonymous 19-nov-2012-2.56pm.

    I agree with your points, and can't understand why on earth the move to pay unsocial hrs enhancement when off sick was thought to be a good idea. If you aren't there, you aren't there, and someone else has to be brought in and paid to cover you and they get the enhancement too.

    As regards the increment being paid only if you do your job properly, wouldn't that be an incentive to do just that. There are quite a few people sat on their laurels, and just cruising along.

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  • Anonymous | 19-Nov-2012 2:56 pm
    Anonymous | 19-Nov-2012 3:33 pm

    So we are to understand that you are happy with a reduction in your pay and conditions? Oh, and do you think your seniors will 'agree' with your own belief that you are deserving of performance-related increments? Hmmm.

    Ah, what is that I see in the distance? Oh dear. It's the NHS Employers moving the goal posts again. Who could have seen that coming?!! Ooh, not us nurses. We're too busy sabotaging ourselves. Watch where you are pointing that gun matey. You don't want your foot getting in the way yet again!!!

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  • well I am tired of it all - am leaving after almost 17 years - sick of it all - it is definately not the same job I applied for all those years ago. Now there is not the time for quality patient care, we are just treading water.... and as for sitting with a dying patient and comforting them during theil last hours / minutes....forget it - it is not seen as cost effective. John Lewis here I come !!

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  • tinkerbell

    Well done you for 17 years dedicated service, hope you get the recognition you deserve before you leave, unlikely i know, but well done anyway. 17 years is a big chunk of a life and i'm sure you've made a positive difference to the lives of your patients.

    Good nurses shouldn't just be allowed to leave without someone giving them swome recognition for all their dedication.

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  • I agree with abolishing enhanced out of hours sick pay, as someone said earlier, if you're not there, you're not there, so why on earth should you expect enhanced pay for not turning up?

    Not sure exactly what the powers that be are planning to inflict. There was talk of abolishing all enhanced pay, so weekends, nights and Bank Holidays would all be paid at standard rate. Who on earth is going to choose to work those shifts voluntarily? It's a crazy idea.

    Leave annual increments alone. They are a great motivator for staff to increase their knowledge and skills. However it's becoming noticeably more difficult to get onto any decent training courses in the NHS. I have been told to go in my own time and at my own expense -and presumably then offer these extra skills and knowledge FOC to the great NHS!! Who will determine whether an individual staff member should get an annual increment? Imagine the splitting in teams, where some (favoured by managers) are awarded increments, whilst others are denied. OK, where someone has been off long-term sick, then they can hardly expect an increment, but where people have attended every day, done their best, attended training, and supported their team, then the increment is the least they deserve.

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  • Anonymous | 20-Nov-2012 4:07 pm

    "Not sure exactly what the powers that be are planning to inflict. "

    That's precisely the problem. Some people have focused solely on sick pay arrangements and, in their indecent haste to 'punish' colleagues for being unwell, they rather overlooked the fact that they are being completely fleeced in every other aspect of their pay and employment terms. Yet another successful government tactic to trick the spectacularly thick nursing profession.

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  • tinkerbell

    Anonymous | 20-Nov-2012 6:26 pm

    well spotted. There's a lot of red herrings going on within the context of what this dilution actually means, it needs a lot more clarity. If nurses think it is only regarding sick pay enhancements then i question where they have been the past 2 years whilst all this havoc has been unfolding.

    Staff who are going to be sacked and then re employed with worse terms and conditions will find that it is not just sick pay enhancements that have been removed but a host of other terms and conditions of current employment have been diluted. e.g., no enhancements for unsocial hours, less annual leave, less pay, less maternity, less leave entitlement, less staff, less pension but more work.

    All this has been made public knowledge so why would some nurses believe it only relates to sick pay enhancement payments, which i think most people would think was reasonable if you didn't work the unsocial hours whilst off sick.

    The rest is totally unreasonable to expect nurses to work shifts, weekends and out of hours without any enhancements at all. Perhaps this is just another way to get rid of nurses.

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  • were as well giving them our 10 pints of blood just now and be done with it.

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  • Anonymous | 22-Nov-2012 7:43 pm

    I know how you feel. They already have all of our sweat and tears!

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  • I have to admit that I don't know all the ins and outs of the changes as reading about stuff like that just depresses the hell out of me...maybe it's time to see exactly what is being sacrificed. I completely agree with removing unsocial hours sick pay...that is just ridiculous. However, if we agree to these new terms, then what is to stop them trying again in a years time....after all, the profession rolled over once, why not again. By agreeing to these conditions, the Unions are saying that Nurses will accept anything and are showing just how little political power the profession has.
    Any other profession, such as teachers, doctors, firemen etc, would have had a ballot call a long time ago and would have gone on strike rather than accept changes to the pay conditions and this would have been driven by their Unions. Our Unions say "Yes Sir, what else would you like us to lose?" Until Nurses have Unions that actually have some use, beyond constantly saying but not doing, then the Profession is going to continue to be walked all over.

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  • nursemorph | 25-Nov-2012 3:14 pm

    "Until Nurses have Unions that actually have some use, beyond constantly saying but not doing, then the Profession is going to continue to be walked all over."

    I agree with you, up to a point. The unions have historically not 'led' very well. However, we are the union members and there is fatal apathy amongst nurses in particular. They simply do not vote in union ballots, thereby disabling the ability of unions to act on our behalf. The vote on pensions being the most recent, infuriating example of nurses not bothering. We need to tell our unions what we wish them to do on our behalf, but we also need to be prepared to walk the walk.

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