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SW pay consortium to press ahead with Agenda for Change plans

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A consortium of 19 NHS trusts in the South West have met for the first time and agreed to press ahead with plans to break away from Agenda for Change.

The decision comes despite warnings from unions who have threatened to walk away from national negotiations claiming they are being “derailed” by the local “cartels”.

Christina McAnea, head of health at Unison and chair of the NHS staff council of 16 unions, labelled the move “highly provocative.”

The consortium steering group met for the first time on 29 June and agreed to develop detailed plans in coming months as part of a full business case to identify options to reduce the pay bill in the South West.

The full business case is anticipated to be completed by the end of 2012. It will then be presented for consideration at each consortium member’s board. Among plans thought to be under consideration by the consortium are proposals to reduce pay costs such as sick pay.

Ms McAnea told Nursing Times: “We are negotiating nationally on terms and conditions in good faith, but a significant number of employers taking unilateral action such as this, at this time, is not only highly provocative but completely undermines the national negotiations.

“The trade unions are well aware of the challenging financial times and the pressures on the NHS. But ‘rogue’ employers like this are risking the chance of reaching a national agreement. They are also undermining staff morale, stable industrial relations, staff recruitment and retention, and ultimately patient care.”

She said the unions were in no doubt that the consortium was attempting introduce regional pay by stealth adding: “Even if trusts save money in the short term, it will not be good news for patients in the long run. Staff who can vote with their feet will do so, finding jobs elsewhere.”

Chris Bown, chief executive of Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The consortium recognises the NHS faces a time of unprecedented challenge, both financially and in the provision of services to our patients.

“The consortium acknowledges the concerns expressed by some staff and unions at the establishment of this group, and as these plans take shape I would like to reiterate our commitment to continue to seek to work positively and constructively with staff as well as unions.”

He said the group of 19 hospital trusts, who have each paid £10,000 to join the consortium, was “full supportive” of national negotiations but he added: “The consortium believes rather than watch these negotiations from a distance, we can and should work in the background as these discussions take place to give us the best opportunity to be sustainable organisations in the years ahead.”

Savings on pay and terms and conditions would mean a reduced need for trusts to make redundancies, he said.

  • 3 Comments

Readers' comments (3)

  • I am not usually a supporter of "Trade Unions" , however, in this instance I have every sympathy with what is being expressed by Ms McAnea.

    These consortium's are by definition divisive and will by their very existence lead to staff believing they are being plotted against.

    Are the consortium's intending to examine their bloated management structures, the awarding of undeserved "bonuses" to individuals who would not recognise a patient if they saw one?

    Will they attempt to claw back the massive pay awards made to GP's and Consultant Medical staff which were the result of grossly incompetent negotiation by "Senior Managers"?

    More likely, what will be targeted is Nursing budgets. It is well known that the RCN is a weak organisation and that Nurses/Midwives have no "industrial" strength. (Witness the recent farce surrounding the "Pension" debate. Much evidence of moaning but no real determination by the Profession to oppose the proposals)

    The profession has tolerated a dilution of skill mix and an effective reduction in the total numbers of available professional staff. Those Nurses that remain available find themselves deluged in nonsensical paperwork, increasing numbers of highly dependent patients and lacking in support or appreciation of the almost impossible task of providing patient care.

    The "management speak" uttered by Chris Brown means nothing except "we remain determined to reduce the pay of our Nurses and Midwives" Note the THREAT "Savings on pay and terms and conditions would mean a reduced need for trusts to make redundancies"

    Yes, perhaps it is time for the Unions to shine, unfortunately, unless the Unions have the full support of the majority of the Profession any attempt to halt the attempted assault on pay and conditions of service will fail.

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  • I and my husband both work at Gloucestershire Hospitals Trust our chief Exec has signed up to this cartel without any negotiations with staff. he has taken the £10,000 to join it from trust funds - not his own pocket, presumably money meant for patients. He awarded himself a comfortable bonus this year as he does every year - how nice for him. And now he wants to reduce his staffing bill by controlling our pay. If we as a Nursing profession don't stop this now then we deserve everything we get.

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  • re above

    this is disgusting, awarding himself a bonus and now trying to reduce the staff pay and conditions...

    a typical tory, only interested in lining thier own pockets and down with the ordinary workers

    if your trusts unions do not stand up to this and the staff dont strike, you will only have yourself to blame..he carnt run a hospital without staff!!!

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