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Call for NHS pay to be linked to productivity


Unions have suggested that nurse pay rises could be linked to increases in efficiency in the NHS.

Their proposals have called for a reward system within the NHS similar to one used by business, where gains in productivity are linked to pay increases.

This focus on efficiency followed claims by NHS organisations that budgets within the health service were expected to shrink in the coming years as the effects of the recession filtered through to the public sector.

The subject was discussed at a meeting earlier this month of the NHS social partnership forum, a partnership between the Department of Health, NHS Employers and NHS trade unions to improve working relationships within the NHS.

Making efficiency and cost savings could help to save jobs should NHS finances come under serious pressure, said Mike Jackson, UNISON senior national officer.

Mr Jackson said: ‘There would need to be something in it for staff – that might be an opportunity for a future pay round. This could be negotiated with the pay increase.

‘In other industries, productivity margins are shared – if there are margins created by the workforce for employers, then the benefits are shared.’

One stumbling block is that traditional productivity measures of inputs and outputs cannot always be used in healthcare settings.

For example, having one nurse look after a greater number of patients may look like a cost saving on paper, but could lead to adverse clinical outcomes.

Barrie Brown, Unite lead officer for nursing, added that successes such as meeting the one-hour waiting and MRSA targets already showed that productivity had increased in the NHS.

‘This issue of productivity has come up in the past. Our view is that there have already been big productivity gains,’ he said.

‘The targets that have been set in the NHS have been exceeded and this has been an achievement of frontline NHS staff.’

He warned that he did not want to see this issue overshadow the debate about the continued use of the pay review body process to determine future pay awards.

There has been no discussion about whether the PRB will continue when the current three-year pay deal expires in 2011.

‘There are no discussions about the continuation of the Pay Review Body process for the future pay awards,’ he added.


Readers' comments (4)

  • John Howes

    Targets were in, now they are out. The goalposts are constantly moved. After 46 years as a nurse nothing is new to me.

    Modernisation, to many of my generation is a joke, it comes accompanied by more spin than Hurricane Katrina, the outcome is that we find ourselves engaged in commonsense exercises that we did 30 years ago, the only difference is that these 'modern ' practices require so many more, more highly paid people to achieve them.

    We appear unable, collectively or individually, to resolve problems by addressing them, analysing them and attacking them, instead, we create new comittees and new solutions, the problems remain unsolved and simply get repackaged for the next generation of non-clinical wannabes. Many of whom create a reputation for themselves as innovative thinkers.

    How we will ever get a product margin is a mystery, we talk of business managers, I worked in the USA in a Level 1 Trauma Centre, the difference between that Hospital (900 beds) with atotal Admin staff of less than 100, with my own Hospital (1100 beds approx) Admin staff 1000+.

    The NHS for the most part is extremely unbusinesslike. This does not prevent Executive Board members paying themselves large salaries and receiving significantly larger percentage increases than the people who deliver care plus ca change!!

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  • "In other industries, productivity margins are shared- if there are margins created by the workforce for the employers, then the benifits are shared."
    Only one thing that is being forgot, we are dealing with people here not wood, plastic or steal!!

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  • Productivity based on savings, good idea but as stated by John Howes, been there and done that before. So how do we save money? Well maybe the clue is in getting the hight people into the right jobs. If managers can't manage - why do we employ them? If very senior managers will not allow junior or middle managers to do their jobs then those seniors should go, they are not good managers.
    If we need to spend £350 million on consultancy fees then we really should look at this and not keep on attacking junior levels and expecting them to save and cut again and again. Most juniors and lower level managers would be able to tell us were they can save money - I wonder when will government, NHS and executives actually notice that we can help if they let us! This year, next year, sometimes .... lets hope it's not never.

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  • Cheeky bas****s!!!!!!

    The NHS would collapse if every nurse left.

    Maybe we should all walk out, just for a day, and remind everyone how important we are. And also how pointless and necessary the army of beauracrats, pen pushers, facilitators, managers etc are.

    THAT is what pay should be linked to. Nurses are the single most important link in the NHS chain, we should get a lot more than we do, on par with Doctors at least.

    But then there is always the patients will come to harm if we strike argument. And the government knows that, and uses it against us.

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