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South West trusts set up regional 'pay cartel'

Sixteen trusts in the south west are seeking to move away from Agenda for Change and have formed a consortium to lead regional negotiation on pay, terms and conditions.

Nursing Times understands only South Devon Healthcare Trust, Somerset Community Health and Torbay and Southern Devon Health and Care Trust have decided not to join the group, described by unions as a “cartel”, while the region’s mental health trusts are keeping their position under review.

Taunton and Somerset Foundation Trust, Royal United Hospital Bath Trust and Gloucestershire Hospitals Foundation Trust have already approached staff.

Unison regional head of health Simon Newell told Nursing Times the unions had told management they were not prepared to discuss terms and conditions. He said issues on the table included unsocial hours payments, elements of sick pay and holiday pay, all of which come under the national pay agreement Agenda for Change.

More than 40 staff side representatives from the region’s NHS trusts, foundation trusts and seven social enterprises met in Bristol today to discuss their approach to the plans. In a press release following the meeting they described the consortium as a “pay cartel”.

Chair of the joint unions health officers forum for the south west Dorothy Fogg said: “This group of employers are planning to abandon nationally agreed pay and conditions in the South West region.

“This is not an issue about public sector pay; the knock on effects will have a devastating impact of the regional economy, especially the private sector, at a time when the economy needs strengthening not weakening.”

In his budget speech chancellor George Osborne announced plans to introduce local pay in the public sector to make salaries more reflective of cost of living.

The Department of Health has proposed retaining national pay agreement but expanding the areas that receive recieving a weighting to take account of more expensive living costs. This would be done by holding down pay in areas with a lower cost of living.

Foundation trusts have been able to opt out of Agenda for Change since their creation but only Southend Univeristy Hospital Foundation Trust has ever done so.

The initiative has been led by the trusts not the strategic health authority. A spokeswoman for NHS South of England said the authority was aware of the plans.

She said:  “We are aware that some employers are considering  working more collaboratively in order to ensure that their pay frameworks represent best value for money… the Strategic Health Authority continues to work with employers and trades unions in applying national terms and conditions where employers do not have the freedom to develop their own.”

Readers' comments (20)

  • Horrendous! We simply cannot allow it to happen. I am employed by one of the Trusts mentioned and nothing would delight our Chief Exec more than to pay Nurses even less, he has scant regard for us as it is.

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  • George Kuchanny

    There is quite an insidious problem here. Bristol for instance has a fairly high cost of living with accomodation of all sorts being rather expensive and ditto public transport. Drive down renumeration by using a local pay deal and what happens? Hopefully common sense will predicate that this slippery path is one that few Southwest Trusts (if any) will want to use as a blunt instrument to (to put it bluntly) 'shaft' their workers.

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  • tinkerbell

    and so it will continue ad infinitum, until nurses decide to stand up for themselves.

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  • This disgusts me: I've been a nurse for over 20 years and have seen management mushroom out of control. They care about shaving costs and I'm sorry to say that nurses are easy targets because we moan about everything but do nothing about anything. If every nurse in the south west handed in their notice on the same day we would be shafting the managers instead of them ploughing headlong through our needs without a care. Would we ever do this? Unlikely because whenever trust managers want to knock us down we not only let them: we hand them the stick todo it! I've had enough, and I'm leaving nursing altogether!

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  • tinkerbell

    singularly we are dispensible, united we are indespensible.

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  • I too am disgusted by this move. The mere words 'value for money' equals reducing pay and conditions and getting the cheapest salaries for nursing care. Does no-one feel that nurses are value for money already? The majority of the nursing workforce are not on huge salaries and work many, many hours unpaid. I would say that this is VERY good value for money. It is so demoralising for nursing. We have no respect, recognition or appreciation.

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  • Well, we reap what we sow. Solidarity instead of individualism is what is needed, but when it comes to the crunch, all of those living in areas where the pay will not be restructured will be quietly hoping that the sword o'Damoclese will just sweep their country cousins off their perch whilst leaving them safely esconsed. In reality, give it 6 months and we'll all be screwed. STAND UP AND FIGHT, YOU COWARDS!

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  • tinkerbell

    redpaddys12 | 29-May-2012 4:58 am

    here, here. Just fiddling while Rome burns.

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  • Cassandra,
    Fated with the gift of prophecy but doomed because no-one would believe her, daughter of noble Priam of Troy, time to tell these drongos to get off their arses and act! What next, come into work for free?!? Forgot, already do that, whilst some Baroness who gets a title for licking Dave's hoop steals from us all! Give her regional pay, preferably an hourly rate from Wormwood Scrubs sewing mailbags/ breaking rocks or whatever is construed as 'rehabilitation'. Remember, we are all in this together!

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  • Cassandra | 29-May-2012 5:56 am


    TINKERBELL why on earth have you changed your ID from Tinkerbell to THIS?



    “…in those groups of real and on-line communities of people where all aspects of psychic (or psi) abilities— and particularly, precognitive foresight— are accepted as a commonplace fact and not conjecture, the term "Cassandra Syndrome" has been coined to be a reflection of those who deliberately ignore warnings and predictions of any kind of impending trouble or doom because of disbelief, ignorance, skepticism, or just plain stubbornness when it comes to psychic abilities. When everything is all over, it is said that this person was a victim of the Cassandra syndrome.”

    “In Greek mythology, Cassandra (Greek ?ass??d?a, also ?as??d?a,[1] also known as Alexandra[2]) was the daughter of King Priam and Queen Hecuba of Troy. Her beauty caused Apollo to grant her the gift of prophecy. In an alternative version, she spent a night at Apollo's temple, at which time the temple snakes licked her ears clean so that she was able to hear the future (this is a recurring theme in Greek mythology, though sometimes it brings an ability to understand the language of animals rather than an ability to know the future).[3] When she did not return his love, Apollo placed a curse on her so that no one would ever believe her predictions. She is a figure both of the epic tradition and of tragedy, where her combination of deep understanding and powerlessness exemplify the ironic condition of humankind.”


    By courtesy of Wikipedia

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  • tinkerbell

    alright i've had me ears licked out. I hear you.

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  • Hey wake up --------------this is easy !

    Form a nursing co-operative with hundreds of members,

    Then collect resignation letters ( hundreds ) all with the same effective date of resignation.

    Then offer the Trusts a deal which includes
    enhanced salaries guaranteed bonuses and minimal staffing levels.
    Fight fire with fire

    Sadly it wont happen and you will all cave in whilst moaning about the "management"

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  • THEY ARE NOT ALLOWED!!!!

    THIS HAS BEEN TRIED AND SUCCESSFULLY CHALLENGED BEFORE!!!!!!!

    THE TRUST BACKED DOWN!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  • Anon 8.40am
    Try reading the Illiad, instead of Wikipedia, broaden your mind a lot more. It's free on Kindle store, and is beautiful.

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  • Toby Ornottoby

    Oh for the days of the Whitley Council. It was often mocked back in the day but it seems like a distant oasis of admirable sensibility in these days of fiscal lunacy.

    If it gets much crazier UK nurses might as well forget about any thought of any form of protest and start thinking about emigrating to Canada, Australia, America... or just about any other country that still values nurses (both morally and fiscally!)

    Alas I prophesy that this situation is going to get a lot worse before it gets even worse!

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  • redpaddys12 | 30-May-2012 1:49 am


    thanks for the tip but Wikipedia, for what it is, was quicker to find the information to respond to the post than ploughing through the Iliad on this occasion, but I agree with you.

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  • Anon 2.04am
    It is a bit hard going, but once you start, read it as you would music lyrics (with a little tune in the noggin) and it positively flies past!

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  • If this happens I can't afford to nurse even if they just bring in regional pay I will be forced to leave a Job I love. These are really worrying times; they seem to be treating nurses and the profession with very little respect:

    1) Our pensions are under attack
    2) Potential of regional pay.
    3) The SW trusts looking at lower pay and terms and conditions of employment under attack.
    4) Potential hike in professional fees.
    5) Pay freeze for the past two years (a pay cut in its self).

    All this at a time when the NHS is having to save £20bn; in addition to the major changes in the Health and Social Care Bill that will be implemented.

    This is all very worrying when taking into account the Daily Mail reported (In March 2012) results from a £2.8 million study that found 42% of Nurse in England were assessed as being burned out (second only to Greece) and 44% intended to leave their job in the next year due to dissatisfaction. The RN4CAST study looked at more than 2,900 nurses based at more than 40 hospitals in England. It found (according to the Daily Mail) England's nurses feel worse about their jobs than 11 other EU countries and the US.

    The current situation is very serious indeed. NHS Staff deserve to be treated with respect. Nurses should not be made to feel bad about their jobs and forced into hardship with more pay cuts and diminished
    terms and conditions of employment: This is a total lack of respect for the jobs we all do in the NHS. WE CAN'T let this happen.

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  • Lansley would be proud of this discussion as his slow destruction of the NHS gathers pace. I would like to say it won't get worse but this is only the beginning there is much worse to come.

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  • Reported in the Daily Telegraph 16/07/2012

    "The 19 chief executives believe that by acting together they can counter the ‘extremely hostile’ reaction expected by staff, it has been reported.
    The document leaked to the Sunday Times said: “Acting in unison... in a way which has not been undertaken previously demonstrates both the seriousness of the situation and the collective resolve to achieve long-term change.”
    Hospital staff in Poole, Exeter, Plymouth and Turo are thought to be among the 1.5m who could be affected.
    Demonstrations have already been held and it is expected that the unions would put up a strong fight to protect national pay.
    Unison has said the plans will “damage patient care and drive down pay’.
    The document outlines measures such as a sliding scale pay cut with those on more than £21,000 a year set to lose around 5 per cent, reducing sick and stopping unsocial hours payments.
    Performance related awards could soften the blow for staff in what the document calls a ‘sweet and sour’ approach.
    The ‘final option’ could be to terminate all contracts and reemploy staff on the new terms."

    It would seem that the consortium is firming up its options prior to launching a ferocious attack on staff.

    This would seem to indicate that staff and their professional/trade unions need to plan an extremely robust plan of rebuttal.

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