NHS Direct staff call off industrial action over downbanding dispute
Nurses and call advisors working for NHS Direct have called off industrial action following talks with management.
More than 200 frontline staff members were affected by plans to down-band their roles when they moved into the new NHS 111 service. NHS 111 is due to replace NHS Direct’s 0845 number nationwide by 21 March.
Under the plans senior nurse advisers, currently on a band 6 Agenda for Change salary, were being asked to accept a band 5 if they wanted to transfer into a similar role with NHS 111. Health advisers would be down-banded from a band 3 to a band 2 if they chose to stay on.
Long-serving staff would get pay protection for up to three years but employees who have worked there for less than two years will get just six months protection.
Unison members had voted to take industrial action. However, NHS Direct has now agreed to review and re-evaluate the banding, starting in July, following talks at the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS).
Unison national officer Michael Walker said he was pleased an agreement had been reached and industrial action had been avoided.
“Nurses and health advisors at NHS Direct are clear that national agreements must be upheld and that they are willing to take action to defend them,” he said.
Roger Rawlinson, HR and transition director at NHS Direct, said the meeting had been “extremely useful and constructive”.
“We will be redeploying relevant staff into their respective new band 2 and band 5 posts from 1 April, with notice of the start of their pay protection running from that date,” he said.