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Union leaders agree draft deal to dilute Agenda for Change

Unions have agreed draft proposals to reduce terms and conditions for NHS staff at a meeting with NHS Employers today, Nursing Times can reveal.

The NHS Staff Council executive met today where the proposals by NHS Employers were debated by all health unions.

All unions have agreed to take the proposals back to their executive committees for consultation. But one senior insider at the negotiations has revealed some unions were “uncomfortable and not at all happy” with the proposals.

The move represents a major step forward in the negotiations on Agenda for Change and means a final deal could be significantly closer.

The key proposals include the end of automatic incremental pay rises for Agenda for Change staff. Workers will need to meet required performance standards set by the trusts in consultation with the staff side, informed by a national guidance. This guidance will be published along with the proposals.

Enhanced out-of-hours sick pay will also be lost except by those with work related injuries or diseases. Nursing Times can reveal work is continuing to investigate the possible inclusion of staff on maternity leave.

Band 5 staff will no longer receive their preceptorship payments, which are currently meant to see them receive two pay rises in their first year.

Employers have also successfully included plans to potentially remove staff at the most senior pay bands in bands 8c,8d and 9. Band 8b was excluded from the change after what one source said was a “pitched battle” between employers and unions.

The proposals, if adopted, would mean a significant deterioration in terms and conditions for NHS staff and some unions have already threatened industrial action.

The changes would only apply to NHS staff in England and would be an appendix added to the original Agenda for Change deal.

Unions have stressed NHS trusts will need to commit to the national deal rather than pursue a local solution if the proposed changes are to go ahead.

A senior union source, present at today’s Staff Council Executive, told Nursing Times: “The document will now go out to each union’s executive or their equivalent who will determine what each union will do.

“There was differences of opinions between some of the unions.

“A deal has not been done but we are further along in the process and we are now going out to consultation.”

Unison head of health and staff-side chair Christina McAnea said: “All of the Staff Council unions have agreed to take the proposals back to their executives.

“The unions’ main objective is to defend and maintain a national terms and conditions agreement which can deliver for patients, staff and employers.

“We hope this will enable those trusts, including those in the South West, to commit to the national Agenda for Change agreement,” she added.

Gill Bellord, director of employment relations and reward at the NHS Employers organisation, said: “Following publication of our proposals on 25 June we have continued to involve employer representatives, including employers in the South West, on progress.

“We all know discussion about terms and conditions can be challenging, yet significant progress has been made,” she said.

“All parties recognise the value of partnership working and will continue to work together to ensure that national terms and conditions remain sustainable for the future, fit for purpose and fair to staff.

“We now look forward to a positive outcome to the trade union consultation,” Ms Bellord added.


Readers' comments (74)

  • So Unison, are you going to consult your members about this? It's not about you, it's about US. Once terms and conditions are diluted it's the thin end of the wedge, and we will never make up lost ground.

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  • AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  • So the sabre-rattling about no deal unless the South West cartel falls in line seems to have been quitely dropped in favour of "We hope this will enable those trusts, including those in the South West, to commit to the national Agenda for Change agreement.”
    Game set and match to the employers.

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  • we are already effectively worse off, what private company has such highly trained staff. we deserve better pay than private sector!!!!

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  • tinkerbell

    BALLOT your members unions first before you decide to accept a diluted version on our behalf, are you acting on our behalf or not?
    Whatever has happened to our democratic rights to have a say in all this.

    I'm fed up to the back teeth with the whole way any of this is being handled. We pay your union fees, please consult your members.

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  • Lets hope the union leaders has the stones to ballot their members on the changes. When the changes are rejected lets hope the ballot for industrial action includes removal of services. Only way to save the NHS is to scare the government by closing hospital (including ED departments)

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  • Although we are not privy to the finer workings of these negatiations, I know enough about industrial relations to state that, given an inch, the employers will take a yard. It appears that the unions supposed to be acting on our behalf - and in all of our best interests - are giving ground bit-by-bit. I am "only" a student (albeit a very long-in-the-tooth one) but I don't want to find myself entering NHS employment finding more and more ground has been cut from under our feet by the time that I qualify. None of us, I hope, wants to see industrial action as it's the patients who suffer from that but the reality is that patients are already suffering from staff shortages and staff are suffering from the same thing. If our unions can't plant their feet in the ground and take a stand on our behalf, what hope is there for us to avoid being pushed further and further into a corner? The outcome of that, surely, is that more and more staff will leave and the NHS will eventually implode - but not before it has taken its toll on patients and staff alike.

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  • If you are in Bristol on the 1st December PLEASE come to the rally against the cartel 11am Castle Green support your unions against the cuts

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  • Why is it the default agenda is always compromise with these unions? Oh wait, that's right BECAUSE NURSES BEND OVER AND LET THEM!

    Well done to Anonymous | 9-Nov-2012 10:32 pm by the way! Good man! Or woman! Maybe ther is hope for you after all. Although I remain less than optimistic.

    Given the sheer damn insult that these idiots are 'offering' nurses, then why not hit back with a comparative offer?

    List of demands:

    AFC remains.

    Newly qualified nurses wage is to rise to £26,000 a year, with comparative rises for extra quals and higher bands.

    A golden hello of £5000 to welcome every new staff nurse to compensate them for all the s**t they will have to put up with.

    A golden goodbye of £5000 to every nurse to thank them for the s**t they have put up with!

    Unsocial hours payments to be minimum double time.

    Holiday leave to double.

    Sickness leave will ALL be paid at the unsocial hours rate, regardless of actual hours supposed to have been worked.

    Pension contributions to half, but payouts are to double. This can be paid for by a paycut of any member of the RCN, management or anyone NOT clinical but leeching off the profession.

    NMC fees are to now be paid by the public.

    Staffing levels on each shift are to triple, for both qualified and unqualified staff, to take into account true patient numbers.

    Let them negotiate THAT!!! Why should the negoations always be on their terms?

    And if they complain? Give them the same answer they are giving you right now! Take it, or go **** yourselves!

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  • I agree with Mike on every demand but one.
    Also I wish to add to the demands.
    The one I do not agree with is that all sickness leave should be paid at unsocial hours rate.
    I will like to add :
    --Should a staff member on a shift had to take up extra responsibility because of short staff then that staff will be paid in the porportion of: extra workload / responsibility carried out.
    --All extra hours put in must be paid and at overtime rate.

    My other point is :

    We demand that unions listen to us before making any decision on our behalf.
    We hope that infiltration in our unions is not a problem too. Otherwise we nurses are vulnerable of course if we stand together that is the best wall of protection.

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  • In the frequent absence of a band 6 or 7 on my ward can I ask to be paid the equivalent of their wages when I am on duty as I am the one having to take responsibility for the shift?

    Are NHS staff not in AfC being affected by any of this? will our CEO take a paycut? Will the Unions publish the directors and managers salaries, bonuses, perks etc. on a comparison table with nurses salaries, bonuses, perks etc.

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  • I am a Trade Union representative and will be asking the same questions as you all with regards to the ability of our so called leaders to negotiate. However members have to display solidarity and not fear recrimination by their employers. We still have so many subservient individuals who will not even demonstratre or vote. The Union are its members and voting for action whether that be work to rule or striking might be the only option we have. There is no point in dismissing your trade union if you are not prepared to fight for your rights...

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  • tinkerbell

    Anonymous | 10-Nov-2012 9:50 am

    Exactly. Will we be balloted before any agreement? I'm not sure how it all works.

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  • 9:50 yes that is true, I have met too many subservient nurses and carers who are not willing to do anythingh to help themselves. They could be our downfall. They will need to understand this.

    To add to the 9:09hrs demands, to ensure nurses and carers are paid for extra work, responsibility and time put in . We will like to have MOST URGENTLY an intelligent framework for calculation of staffing in all health establishments which must be approved by the Nursing Code of Pratice and Health and safety for patients and staff.

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  • “We all know discussion about terms and conditions can be challenging, yet significant progress has been made. All parties recognise the value of partnership working and will continue to work together to ensure that national terms and conditions remain sustainable for the future, fit for purpose and fair to staff.
    “We now look forward to a positive outcome to the trade union consultation.”

    Partnership working + consultation - yeah right, more like its tough its going to be this way.
    1 step forward, but the treadmill has got faster.
    Don't think directors are affected by AfC, they're on another payscale, partly funded by the rest of us.

    mike | 10-Nov-2012 1:29 am
    That's the sort of progress we want.

    Time people take a stand, also tell public how it really will be: you'll lose nurses, other healthcare staff, resources, facilities and have to take care of things yourself - if they're lucky they might get a DC volunteer to support you at home.

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  • tinkerbell

    Alright then, Come on then, lets give this unelected government a pasting they way they are giving us one. Lets decide to take industrial action if and when balloted. It's a given that none of us what to take industrial action or strike, I have never taken any kind of industrial action before in 25 years of nursing, nor has it ever entered my head to do so before this shower got in, but they started this fight against us, we didn't.

    Let's stop bemoaning our lot and stand up for ourselves. Those in favour vote 'aye'.

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  • I can imagine they were really tough negotiations (given we're working in a world where govt 'negotiation' was 'if you reject pension offer we'll impose it anyway') & union negotiators fought really hard, but the power does seem to be v much on employer side.
    Even the T&C changes in article I can see leading to huge increased workload for union reps/complaints/legal cases - if increments linked to performance standards, what's the betting employers will fail to put people on the required courses or 'help' them not meet requirements so they can save money? (Poor) line managers will be rubbing their hands in glee at the open opportunity to surreptitously bully/hold back staff if they want to (Has anyone ever managed to fight the 'no surprises'/if employer fault not able to go through KSF gateway you go through anyway' argument?
    I know of employers already refusing to fill in the piece of paper acknowledging work-related illness to prevent people getting Temporary Injury Allowance (even though it's specifically stated that it's not an admission of liability to fill it in), & if they can save paying people their antisocial hours payments by denying it, even more incentive to cover up.....

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  • OK we need to clarify the following:-
    1. Sick pay for staff that go off at a drop of a hat
    2. enhancement when we are on holiday
    3. why do all NHS staff receive 35/41 days holiday
    4. 6 months full pay and then half pay etc.
    Am sick of listening to NHS staff moan about there lot, I am a nurse with 35 yeas service and feel we get a very good deal and if it helps to save the NHS by cutting some of the above then good

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  • tinkerbell

    diana tierney | 10-Nov-2012 6:29 pm

    Diana I agree with you about the sick pay thing, but honestly. If you have been a nurse of 35 years then you have had the best of the NHS pay, terms and conditions, have you also had your pension?

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  • Anonymous | 9-Nov-2012 10:32 pm the rally on 1st December in Bristol starts at 11am college Green march to Castle Green at starts 11.30am. See you there

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