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Nurses to get 'passports' to bolster employment rights

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Nurses transferring between different NHS services, and to the independent and voluntary sectors will be given ‘staff passports’ setting out their employment rights.

The passport, produced by the Social Partnership Forum, has been designed to reduce uncertainty over issues such as pay, pensions, and terms and conditions.

It is the result of years of bargaining within the forum, made up of employers, unions and Department of Health representatives.

Unison senior national officer Mike Jackson said: “The staff passport ensures that staff are aware of their rights on and following transfer. Knowledge is the key to ensuring those rights are embedded by commissioners and respected by future employers.”

The most contentious issues debated by the forum concerned whether staff transferred out of the NHS should continue to receive NHS pensions. Staff in NHS organisations that become social enterprises are able to keep their pensions, unlike those joining social enterprises or moving to work in the independent sector.

Mr Jackson told Nursing Times: “I think there could be some movement on that. There are still active talks going on to try to secure that agreement from the government that anybody transferred out of the NHS will be able to retain their pension.”

The passport was published during the annual NHS Employers conference, the day before shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley made a speech supporting social enterprises.

Mr Lansley criticised Labour’s policy – outlined in recent weeks – of treating the NHS as the “preferred provider”. He said he wanted an “any willing provider policy, within NHS quality standards, and within NHS prices”.

He said the foundation trust model needed to be simplified to allow PCT provider arms to take advantage of it as well as large acute trusts.

 Alternatively, they could consult staff over becoming social enterprises, similar to John Lewis, in which employees are treated as “partners”, he said.

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