Nursing staff at the only foundation trust outside of Agenda for Change are set to receive a smaller salary increase than other nurses for the first time, Nursing Times has learnt.
Southend University Hospital Foundation Trust has not been part of the national pay contract since it achieved foundation status in 2006. Most of its staff have received similar contractual packages and, until now, pay increases have been the same as national rates.
But Brian Gardiner, Unison representative and staff-side chair of the trust’s pay negotiation committee, said the trust had made it clear the 2010-11 pay increase would be “below” the 2.25 per cent increase set for Agenda for Change staff under the last year of the three year pay deal.
He said management had not committed itself to a firm figure in opening negotiations last month but had warned staff their offer would certainly be below the 2.25 per cent increase which forms the last year of the three year national pay deal.
Mr Gardiner said: “They are painting a picture of doom and gloom but they are holding off giving us a figure.”
When the foundation trust balloted its staff in 2006 as to whether they wanted to come under the national deal or opt for a local deal which gave different flexibilities and included a flat rate performance-related bonus, 95 per cent of staff chose local conditions.
Mr Gardiner said an offer below the national 2.25 per cent would “leave no option for our members but to just jump ship to the Agenda for Change terms.”
The trust’s head of HR Operations Keith Warrior said: “The financial realities are the same for us as everyone else. But because we have local pay we at least have an opportunity as to how we deal with that.
”We need to reward our staff properly, but also make sure we are sustainable. That’s the balance we are trying to achieve.”
Southend’s move came as a Parliamentary answer revealed Department of Health staff had received a total £2.6m in bonus payments in 2008-09, up from £1.9m the year before. The proportion of staff receiving bonuses rose from 71 per cent to 82 per cent for senior grades and from 22 per cent to 47 for other grades. But for senior grades, the average median pay out fell from £8,927 to £5,662.
Meanwhile a leaked internal briefing produced by the Foundation Trust Network – seen by Nursing Times – proposes a host of radical changes to current employment conditions that employers are lobbying ministers to introduce.
They include freezing increments on pay progression for up to three years and doing away with job guarantees for trainee staff. The document also warns that compulsory redundancies may have to be considered.
The leak occurred last week ahead of initial talks between unions and the employer representatives over the possibility of agreeing greater flexible working practices in return for protecting jobs.
In December health secretary Andy Burnham said the Department of Health would work with NHS Employers and trade unions to “explore the pros and cons of offering frontline staff an employment guarantee locally or regionally in return for flexibility, mobility and sustained pay restraint”.