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Further cracks appear in Agenda for Change


There are increasing signs the national pay framework could fracture after a North East trust became the latest to announce plans to break with Agenda for Change.

The move, condemned by unions, comes as five other trusts in the same region publicly declared their support for the national framework but a consortium of trusts in the South West is continuing to press on with its aim to reduce terms and conditions.

North Tees and Hartlepool Foundation Trust has revealed plans to dismiss 5,542 staff and re-employ them on a new contract in order to stop them receiving unsocial hours sick pay.

The FT said sickness absence – excluding agency costs – cost the trust nearly £6m each year, of which sick pay enhancements made up around £400,000 per annum.

The move represents a further sign of the tension among trusts over the delay in a national deal, which has already led to the formation of the South West Pay, Terms and Conditions Consortium.

North Tees and Hartlepool Trust director of human resources Clare Curran said the trust supported a national deal but was “growing increasingly frustrated and we feel we cannot wait for a national resolution”.

She added: “It simply doesn’t make sense to pay staff unsocial hours enhancements when they haven’t worked unsocial hours.”

Christina McAnea, head of health at Unison, said she was “astounded” at the “extreme and drastic” action of the North Tees trust, adding that workers there would be advised not to sign anything.

She said: “We are trying not to let a handful of rogue employers threaten the negotiations but at the end of the day if more trusts do this it comes to a point where it will call into question their [employers] ability to negotiate in good faith.”

Royal College of Nursing regional director Glenn Turp accused the FT of “bullying and intimidating the workforce”.

He said: “This is an incredibly confrontational approach, particularly as national negotiations are still continuing. It is almost as if they are deliberately trying to undermine national negotiations.”

Meanwhile, Nursing Times has learnt that five other foundation trusts in the north have all publicly committed themselves to Agenda for Change and have backed the national talks.

Northumbria Healthcare, Gateshead Health, South Tyneside, Newcastle Hospitals and Cumbria Partnership have all said they have no plans to break with the national framework.


Readers' comments (34)

  • It won't be long before nurses are paid the minimum wage and told to take it or leave. Literally. And nurses have absolutely noone to blame but themselves. It's your fault. If strong action had been taken long before now, mass, prolonged and repeated strike action over pensions, pay and working conditions, this would not even be happening.

    Only yourselves to blame.

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  • totally agree

    you just rolled over on pension reform, so now they are attacking your terms and conditions..because you will do nothing about it!!!

    thank god i left nursing last year

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  • Get over yourselves. If you worked in any non-government place, do you think you would get anything more than statutory sick pay?

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  • It is a ridiculous situation that any Trust should pay out £400,000 per year in enhanced hours payments to people who are off sick! It actively encourages people to have a quick sicky over a weekend and ensures they still recieve their enhanced payment even though they haven't actually been at work! Complete and utter madness, and yes I am a nurse, and yes, I still have AFC pay and conditions.

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  • Anonymous | 5-Oct-2012 1:25 pm

    'Get over yourselves.'

    how rude. no wonder the profession has such a poor reputation.

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  • What a joke. Nurses pensions are decimated, now your pay and conditions are being attacked evn more, and yet you STILL bitch about sickness levels? Perhaps the ONLY perk you get in your undervalued wages? You may not get enhanced sick pay in a non government job Anonymous | 5-Oct-2012 1:25 pm, but you wouldn't need it as you would have a much higher salary with better perks and working conditions for the equivalent level of skill and responsibility! That's what I got when I got out of nursing! It's no wonder nurses get attacked all the time, it is because of people in the profession like yourself. It is pathetic. The level of apathy is laughable. Like I said, the profession deserves whatever it gets now.

    RIP NHS. RIP professional nursing. You will both be sorely missed.

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  • What an unpleasant set of posts

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  • Mike, you clearly don't know much about the private sector! Some nursing homes in the north of England are paying as little as £10.00 per hour for experienced nurses, that equates to £19,500 per annum for equivalent full time salary, with no unsocial hours enhancements, only statutory sick pay and 4 weeks paid holiday, no pension scheme or other perks. Newly qualified NHS nurses start on £21,176, plus unsocial enhancements. While I can appreciate the grudge, some NHS staff have taken liberties for far too long with sickness absence - spoiling it for the genuine ones, so there is no wonder the party is finally over.

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  • Receiving sick pay when genuinely sick is not a perk but a right in any public sector job especially when nurses are often expected to work unpaid extra time at beginning/end of shift eg 30mins here 40mins there etc which can add up to a hefty amount over the year.
    However what surprises me is that if a nurse is rostered on for unsocial hours then yes if they work those hours they are entitled to enhanced pay but if they call in sick then they should only get the flat hourly rate as per sick entitlement.
    After all as far as I am aware if you are rostered for a bank holiday and don't work it you do not get the enhanced hours/overtime rate so whats the difference.
    So in summary I agree with revising this practice so that enhancements are only paid for the actual hours worked not when taken as sick.

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  • Anonymous | 5-Oct-2012 7:59 pm actually I did know that, and I think it is despicable. Perhaps I didn't make it clear that I was talking about the private sector outside of nursing.

    As for the sickness levels, it is completely beside the point, isn't it? Yes some people take the p**s (and to be honest with all the stress and unpaid overtime i don't begrudge them it), but so what? They do in EVERY job! what has that got to do with the fact YOUR wages are severely undervalued and getting eroded year after year, terms and conditions are being torn up in front of you and your pensions have been decimated? AFC was put in place to standardise wages and that is now being torn up! Soon, nurses IN the NHS will be offered £10 per hour, and then even less once that is implemented!

    But no, moaning about the people who take liberties takes precedence doesn't it. What a joke.

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