A draft deal on Agenda for Change has seen some trusts abandon plans to leave the national pay agreement – but others remain committed to breaking away, Nursing Times has learnt.
Unions agreed draft proposals to change AfC with the NHS Employers organisation, which represents trusts, on 9 November, as revealed on nursingtimes.net.
The proposals would see significant reductions in terms and conditions for NHS staff on Agenda for Change in England. But they are viewed as necessary by unions to maintain a national level agreement in the face of mounting attempts to breakaway from AfC.
Nursing Times has learnt that the South West Pay, Terms and Conditions Consortium, the group of trusts that was leading the breakaway, is pressing ahead with plans to leave AfC.
However, unions may draw hope after one of its members dropped out last week. The Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals Foundation Trust decided to leave the consortium after the announcement that unions had accepted the draft national proposals from employers.
Chief executive Tony Spotswood said the trust was “encouraged” by the development and wanted to see the national talks continue.
But the consortium told Nursing Times that while disappointed to lose a member its work would go on. The group of 19 trusts hope to produce a business plan by the end of this year, setting out reductions to staff pay, terms and conditions in a bid to cut the overall pay bill in the region.
Meanwhile, North Tees and Hartlepool Foundation Trust also told Nursing Times it would continue for the time being with its consultation on plans to sack its 5,540 staff and re-hire them on reduced terms and conditions.
Trust director of human resources Clare Curran said: “The national proposal hasn’t yet been accepted. It is our understanding the details are still being worked through, therefore it wouldn’t be appropriate to stop our consultation until we are able to fully consider any final deal.”
But some trusts named this month by Labour as considering breaking away from AfC have told Nursing Times they will now back the national process.
A spokeswoman for South Tees Hospitals Foundation Trust said: “The trust remains supportive of the nationally determined Agenda for Change terms and conditions and hopes that the flexibilities being sought nationally are agreed.”
Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust chair Sue Davis said the trust now had no plans to move away from the national Agenda for Change framework.
Unions are currently deciding on how to consult with members on the draft proposals to change AfC.
If adopted, the deal would see the end of automatic incremental pay rises – which will instead be linked to performance – the removal of preceptorship payments for newly qualified nurses, and the end of enhanced out of hours sick pay.