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Chancellor abandons plans for NHS regional pay

Chancellor George Osborne has abandoned plans to introduce regional pay in the NHS. However, he accepted the NHS Pay Review Body’s call for the Agenda for Change pay framework to be altered in order “to meet the challenges and cost pressures in the NHS”.

The review body has also recommended a “fundamental review of higher cost area zones” which see staff working predominantly in London and the South East paid more.

The decision to retain national pay bargaining is a major victory for health unions and Liberal Democrats who had opposed the introduction of regional pay when it was mooted in March this year.

The Department of Health had wanted to see the introduction of what it called “market facing pay”, with an increased number of higher cost area zones within the existing Agenda for Change framework.

In its evidence to the pay review body in April, the DH had suggested a new higher pay zone covering outer London and much of the south, including most of the home counties, Hampshire and the Bristol area.

A second option would include this area plus parts of the Midlands including Warwickshire, Leicestershire, Nottingham and Derbyshire, as well as areas in and around Manchester and Leeds.

This would have been funded by holding down pay elsewhere.

In his autumn statement this afternoon Mr Osborne said: “The government has today published the reports of the independent pay review bodies on local pay and intends to accept their recommendations, including that there should be no new centrally determined local pay rates or zones but that there should be greater use of existing flexibilities.”

However, the annoucement will not prevent the South West Pay, Terms and Conditions Consortium from pressing ahead with plans to move away from Agenda for Change.

In its report to ministers, published alongside the autumn statement, the pay review body said it supports the idea of market facing pay to “support recruitment and retention of good quality staff to deliver patient care” and to “make more effective and efficient use of NHS funds”.

But it rejected the government’s claim that public sector pay was damaging the private sector.

It said: “Our view is that there has yet to be hard evidence that a positive public sector pay differential is crowding out the private sector and hurting business.”

The body concluded there was no “firm evidence…to justify further additional market-facing pay in the NHS at this time, although further development of AfC is needed to meet the challenges and cost pressures in the NHS”.

It supported Agenda for Change as the “appropriate vehicle” but said a regular review of the framework and its flexibilities was needed with negotiations “brought to a conclusion at a reasonable pace”.

It added NHS trusts “should have transparent pay and reward policies which clearly state their approach to the use of AfC flexibilities”.

Readers' comments (11)

  • tinkerbell

    what a Janus goverment as outlined in the guardian - duplicitous and deceitful. So guess now we are all meant to be really pleased with them for allowing us all to earn a fair wage across the land.

    Integration of services and privatisation of services and bidding wars, where will the poor hapless patient fit into all this, probably on a very long waiting list whilst they die waiting to be treated.

    Regional pay for MP's? Whilst they still screw the taxpayer with their expenses scams.

    How can that be fair?

    Full of double standards.

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  • I am confused - No to local pay yet south west consortium can continue to screw their staff. I know Now that I should have been a banker, this pathetic excuse of a Govt might have more respect for us

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  • "Janus" is right, tinkerbell. I have just enough fingers on one hand to count the number of let-outs here.

    It's politician-speak for " we'll go down the SWPTCC route in due course, but we're dressing it up as a defence of non local pay and we have escape clauses to let us renege on that".

    The argument against local pay is unanswerable in the light of what actually happens on the wards; workload is not a topographical function; the same workload exists outside the major conurbations and is determined by patient-staff ratios - not where we work. As for responsibility: that's the same whether we work in London, Nether Wallop or a cottage hospital in the middle of nowhere.

    Unless and until a change of government gives us an administration that can see the light of day in terms of how the NHS needs to be run on a realistic, patient-centred holistic service coupled c. an even-handed and intelligent employment system, we are consigned to being bystanders in a deteriorating structure that will have - and indeed is having - a detrimental effect on both service users and healthcare givers.

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  • tinkerbell

    David Francis Seelig | 5-Dec-2012 9:16 pm

    and the cost of gas, electricity, petrol, car tax discs, food, is probably all the same price in other areas too isn't it?

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  • the real issue here is never trust the tories with the nhs

    spending HAS been reduced, the nhs is being privatised, job cuts are happening

    i will cut the nhs not the deficit

    tories the quicker they are voted out the better

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  • Nothing has changed. It has been repackaged, maybe, but this bunch of lying idiots are now half way through their term. They actually think by spinning the destruction of the nhs in a slightly different way will get more votes at the next election!!!

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  • Oh, yes. These arrogant, thieving, lying cheating devious, ar******s will definitely get back in, at the next election all right!

    There's no-one suitable in opposition, credible enough to be trusted anymore, to replace them.
    Who'd want labour back in...remember the financial crisis they left this country in?
    lib dems???? Well, I ask you.

    Oh god! I think my tranquillisers are beginning to wear off..... nurse... take me back to the asylum. Now!

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  • tinkerbell

    Iama Cynic | 5-Dec-2012 11:38 pm

    sorry due to frontline staff cutbacks there isn't a nurse available.

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  • so another complete waste of everyones time and money.

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  • I live and work in a rural area, My patients can be as sick as those in urban areas.
    My bills are the same and in some cases more due to lack of services. Why don't I deserve to be paid the same?
    I have been doing this job a long while and am now losing the will.

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  • It's me again... found 'blood letting' has brought me down to earth... where was I ? oh yes, I think we are being most unsympathetic towards our gallant chancellor.
    I mean to say, how can he possibly waste his valuable time reviewing yuor NHS pay, when he needs to focus all his thoughts on, taking more from the tax payers coffers to 'give generously, to all his millionaire mates.

    So come on, think how you'd feel if you only had a few million quid stashed away in your off shore bank accounts? Dig deep into your pockets, tighten up your belts, and take a massive 'pay cut' to help the poor old bugger out, now there's good nurses.
    Sweet dreams!

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