Frontline nurses will, for the first time, be given the chance to have their say on plans to dilute terms and conditions.
The main healthcare unions Unison, Unite and the Royal College of Nursing have confirmed local members will be involved in a consultation on proposals to alter Agenda for Change.
As revealed by nursingtimes.net, on 9 November union leaders agreed to a set of draft proposals from the NHS Employers organisation, which would significantly change terms and conditions for many frontline NHS nurses.
The proposals include an end to automatic incremental pay rises, the loss of enhanced out of hours sick pay, and an end to band 5 nurses receiving two increment rises during their first year after qualification.
Senior staff on higher pay bands could also be removed from Agenda for Change entirely and paid an individual salary.
Unison and the RCN are planning wide-ranging branch consultations with each of their branches deciding how best to garner the views of members. Meanwhile, Unite has said it is planning to send its members consultation documents and a survey – via email and post – with a closing date of 17 December.
An RCN spokesman said: “We are going to be consulting our members. We are still finalising the logistics of how it is all going to take place but it will involve boards and branches seeking the views of RCN members.”
In a statement notifying members of the forthcoming branch consultation, Unison acknowledged the draft proposals were “controversial”.
Christina McAnea, chair of NHS Staff Side Council and Unison’s head of health, said: “The changes to Agenda for Change are a bitter pill for our members to swallow, but all around them they see the harsh reality of government cuts on patients and staff.”
Latest figures from the NHS Information Centre, published last week, suggest the NHS nursing workforce in England is continuing to shrink.
The provisional figures show the total number of qualified nurses, midwives and health visitors fell by 1,012 whole time equivalent staff between July and August, from 305,578 to 304,566.
The results of the union consultations are expected to be known in January.