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Government seeks out of hours working for 'no additional pay'

Government ambitions to deliver more NHS services seven days a week - without increasing the wage bill - have been branded an “attack on hard working nurses”.

Health minister Dan Poulter has asked the NHS Pay Review Body to make “observations” on “affordable ‘out of hours’ working arrangements”. In a letter sent to the body last Friday he said reforms to pay were “crucial to this vital area of service provision”.

There has been a growing drive to offer more hospital services at weekends and out of hours after several studies found patients admitted on weekends and bank holidays were more likely to die than those admitted during the week.

Health service commissioners are also keen that more community services are available round the clock to improve quality of care and ease pressure on busy acute hospitals.

Dr Poulter writes: “There is a strong case for seven day services on the grounds of both patient safety and quality of patient care…

“For 2015-2016 the NHS Pay Review Body is asked to make observations on the barriers and enablers within the [Agenda for Change] pay system, for delivering health care services every day of the week in a financially sustainable way, i.e. without increasing the existing spend.”

Dr Poulter’s request only applies to England. The Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish governments must set their own remits for the pay review body.

However, Royal College of Nursing chief executive and general secretary Peter Carter said the government’s ambitions could only be achieved by nursing staff working more night shifts and weekends “for no additional pay”.

He said: “This is an attack on hard working nurses and healthcare assistants, adding insult to injury and showing that the Government’s declared support for the NHS is nothing but empty rhetoric.”

 Earlier this year the government rejected the pay review body’s recommendation that all NHS staff should get a 1% pay rise in 2014-15. Instead only staff not receiving an incremental pay rise under AfC would get the 1% boost.

In previous years the body’s independent recommendations on NHS pay have been credited with avoiding potentially unpleasant clashes between the government and the unions over pay.

However, the government has also said it would not be asking the body to make a recommendation for 2015-16, leading to warnings of the review body’s imminent demise from unions.

Mr Carter said: “It seems that the review body is being politicised and the government will only accept recommendations that it likes.

 “The government must not and should not use the PRB for its political ends in this way. RCN members are very angry about this interference and it will only serve to strengthen our political campaign.”

The RCN is the only major union representing nurses that is not planning to ballot its members on the pay offer. Unite, Unison, GMB and the Royal College of Midwives are all seeking members views on whether to strike or take industrial action short of a strike.


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Readers' comments (29)

  • So what you going to do about it carter? You won't even ballot your members for a strike and have openly spoke against striking... So do you think the government will listen to you? You are all mouth, no trousers and have no real leadership abilities!

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  • Unsocial hours payments is mainly if not solely the reason why staff work them (as have lot of bills such as the NMC, rent and even food ). I know many would refuse to weekends and nights if this happens. Everyone has got to fight this, as pay has already in real terms gone down by about 15 to 20% I believe.

    Agree with above which is why I left the useless RCN a few years ago as they have done nothing to support or fight for us.

    A strike maybe our only option.....

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  • All members of NHS staff are going to be affected by 7 day service provision. They need to unite to ensure that is is properly funded and staff paid accordingly. All unions should communicating on this and asking their members for opinions.

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  • Of course we need 24/7, 365 day/night provision for acute care in both the hospital and community setting. Everyone realises this, but realistically is there the human resources to support this long over due initiative (which actually is not new, it has been banded around for ever!).
    As for paying these 'unsocial' hours, well until we have a management structure that is not terrified of loosing their own jobs and have the b--ls (anatomically or otherwise) to stand up for their staff and refuse to be 'bullied' by the government into more cost savings, then we have little or no choice.
    I feel that we should unite and stand our ground by means of demonstrating. but not striking. After all folks, it will be us that have to pick up the pieces post strike that will take more time than we already have!
    Roll on the revolution, I'll be at the front!

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  • Really how do they expect to get more people from this country going into nursing.
    My guess is, they do not really care as long as they can have so many people flooding in from Europe to do nursing here.
    Nursing is becoming factory work and less a profession. Although doing factory work you get the weekends off and you don't have sick peoples' lives at risk from understaffing. Every nurse I know with children is telling them not to even think of nursing as a career.
    Weekends, Nights and Bank Holidays MUST be paid more. Why should we be bullied into doing those hours when we could be living a normal life like every one else.

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  • no, I don't think, I understand supermarkets pay triple time, I will go there instead, im not working any more unpaid hours

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  • Do nurses really care about what Dr Carter, one of the highest union stewards, has to say. Over the years the RCN has proved to be weak and incompetent.

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  • carter is just a puppet of this NHS hating govt

    im know in another union who at least are balloting for action

    and come May 2015 all nurse's need to vote out this govt..if not can you imagine another 5 years of this crap!!!

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  • Peter Carter accusing someone of empty rhetoric, oh my. That reminds me, I've got ironing to do...

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  • Do we REALLY listen to Peter Carter? The only time he really makes the headlines is when he drops a b*****ck. He isnt in the news for actually supporting us or changing anything - or did I sleep that day? Poor leadership as with many levels in the NHS - this is what is failing us.

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  • Conflation alert!! 24hr working a different issue from anti-social ours payment.

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  • err hours!

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  • Could we have a list of MP's who work OOH evenings, weekends and nights please? And what their payment is for those hours Mr Poulter?

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  • Oh and not forgetting the bank holidays and Christmas and new year?

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  • dan poulter , hunt et al only work Monday -Friday 9-5 at best, cater should be kicked out the rcn doesn't care a flying fig about nurses

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  • Until nurses stand up to the management and with all medical professionals as a team stand up and tell government puppets this is not on we will not take this bullying culture the nhs and patients will suffer . We need professional nurses from this country working and getting a living wage , not relying on cheap labour from abroad look at Australian nurses they all went on strike got the conditions of pay they deserved.

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  • does the agenda for change work for nurses when the government dictates the terms?

    would nurses be better off negotiating their own terms and pay? we are in demand and provide a service which is priceless that should mean we are in a strong position to negotiate.

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  • Some of the points made here appear to be less informed than you imagine someone should be before posting.

    Whilst most people think they would swap places with a member of the Government, do they realise the number of debates and votes that take place out of hours before wildly asking questions whilst under the impression that Government is a 9-5 job?

    Also, didn't AfC take account of regular OOH payments and average them out across the month over a period of times between diary hour reviews, or has that changed?

    In the spirit of my opening remark, I am happy to be corrected on any of the above.

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  • People don't work unsocial hours for the fun of it. If there was no supplements, do they think anyone would work them out of choice?
    Staff should stop working flat bank rates, as well as unpaid overtime and missing breaks. If there isn't enough staff to safely cover all aspects of care including documentation, then it's a reportable concern which could become an incident if left unrectified. It isn't safe staffing if short of numbers or required skill mix of staff. Senior management and On-Call staff can cover shortfalls, or find more staff or is it beneath them to help struggling colleagues.
    If people need extra work, work as an agency staff forbetter pay or even do a different job.
    Time to work to rule, time to ballot and strike. Time to vote out this government, another 5 years of this isn't worth thinking about.

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  • Anonymous | 3-Sep-2014 9:08 am

    Members of parliament, especially ministers are receiving much better remuneration packages than most nurses. Yes during parliamentary sessions they can very often work very long hours, from before 9am to pass midnight - but not every day. Also recess is even longer than school holidays, which accounts for some of the extra flexibility and hours that's expected as part of their job. Also these have real gold plated pensions compared to what nurses get.
    All too common when some minister does a bad job they just move sideways, out of public eye for a short while, then have another well paid role. If they become ill, I'd expect most of the current ministers and immediate family would have private healthcare support, from not so well paid staff.

    Possibly quite a number of ministers 'support' staff receive decent ooh payments when working OT, unlike most nurses. X2 rate is fairly standard for sundays.

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