South West pay consortium to continue its work
The consortium of trusts looking to break away from Agenda for Change has again signalled its refusal to bow to pressure to halt its work.
The group of 19 South West trusts has confirmed it plans to carry on with efforts to draw up a business plan for a range of options to reduce staff pay, terms and conditions.
There had been claims the group would collapse following the chancellor’s announcement that plans to introduce regional pay zones would not apply to the NHS.
However, George Osborne’s decision related to a set of specific government plans for zones of basic pay weighting that do not include the South West Pay, Terms and Conditions Consortium’s attempts to move away from Agenda for Change.
The consortium had also faced calls to disband following the draft agreement of national proposals to dilute AfC in November.
But consortium chair Chris Bown remained defiant last week on the central aims of the group to reduce staff pay, terms and conditions further than those proposed nationally. He said: “Existing legislation permits NHS trusts freedoms in how pay, terms and conditions are arranged at a local level.
“The consortium was established to explore ways in which these existing freedoms may be used to support sustainability in services and employment in the face of unprecedented challenges. This remains the case.”
Mr Bown added that the consortium was “encouraged” by the progress of national AfC talks and that, “should these proposals be agreed”, he believed consortium members would implement them.
But Nursing Times understands the consortium will still seek to go further and bolt on its own changes to the national proposals. It is believed the national proposals, which include an end to enhanced sick pay, do not deliver the scale of savings desired by consortium members.
Christina McAnea, Unison’s head of health described the consortium’s support for national talks as a “helpful first move”.
A cross party group of 15 MPs from across the South West met health minister Dan Poulter last Tuesday in an attempt to ratchet up the pressure on the consortium to stop.
Liberal Democrat MP Andrew George suggested the group would “come back into line early next year; partly as a result of the pressure they are under.”
He said MPs would urge the group to stop their plans and redirect efforts to save money on items like the procurement of goods and services.