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Voluntary pay-off scheme could lead to nurse exodus

  • 45 Comments

Nurses and other NHS staff are being given until the end of October to decide whether they want to leave their jobs in exchange for up to a year’s salary.

There are concerns the scheme will lead to an exodus of senior nurses from the NHS, reducing the experience and knowledge it can retain.

“They will soon have a health service run only by healthcare assistants and domiciliary care staff”

The “mutually agreed resignation scheme” would allow nurses to receive up to a year’s salary if they choose to resign, compared with up to two years under NHS compulsory redundancy terms.

Nurses will have from mid September to the end of October to decide whether to apply.

Trusts are being asked to set up panels consisting of finance and human resources directors, plus one other director of their choice, to decide which applications are approved.

It is not yet clear how much sway directors of nursing will be given in making decisions.

The Department of Health said the scheme was designed to maintain a stable workforce as strategic health authorities and primary care trusts were wound up and commissioning was passed to GP consortia under the white paper’s reforms.

But the October deadline for the scheme means that nurses in organisations set to be abolished will have to make their choice before the parliamentary bill dissolving their organisations is passed - something nurses told Nursing Times was “senseless” and “unethical”.

The deadline has also been set in advance of any details on how staff working in public health functions at PCTs will be transferred to councils.

Anne Duffy, director of the Community and District Nursing Association, said it “didn’t make sense” to ask nurses to decide whether to leave their roles before they knew how they fitted into the new arrangements.

Ms Duffy said the attempt to cut the workforce was unacceptable and she envisaged it would be senior nurses that employers would allow to leave.

“It’s a disgrace when you think of all of the education and the professional development, and the billions that have been spent on training staff over the years. It’s the most senior staff that they are - and will be - letting go,” she said.

“They will soon have a health service run only by healthcare assistants and domiciliary care staff.”

Sheila Urquhart, a mental health nurse at Bradford District Care Trust, said asking nurses to make a decision in such a short space of time and before the effects of the reforms were clear was “unethical”.

Both Ms Duffy and Ms Urquhart expressed concern that a large number of nurses could be attracted to the scheme but find it hard to secure employment elsewhere.

Ms Urquhart said: “What I would be concerned about is the number of nurses who might be really tempted by this without thinking it through properly. If they are over 50 they might have a difficult time getting another job.”

Under Agenda for Change redundancy terms, staff receive one month’s pay per year of continuous service, with a maximum payout of two years’ salary.

However, Ms Duffy said she was not aware of anyone who had received a two year salary payout and the resignation scheme might offer a higher sum to many professionals.

She said: “I would imagine that quite a lot of nurses would be attracted because of the pressures that they are working under, but there’s a high percentage who are the main breadwinner and will there be any other jobs out there?”

Ealing and Harrow provider services nurse consultant Linda Nazarko said the number of nurses applying for the voluntary scheme might depend on the level of morale locally. The reforms could lead to new opportunities, she added.

“Lots of people might be tempted but they will be asking ‘is there somewhere else I can work?’ For most, the NHS is the only place in town. But if that will remain so under the reforms and the opening up of the service to the private sector remains to be seen.”

A DH spokeswoman said it was up to local organisations to decide whether to implement the scheme.

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  • 45 Comments

Readers' comments (45)

  • I thought front line services were to be preserved and protected. So why is the governement encouraging nurses to leave?
    It looks like a cynical attempt to get rid of senior (older, experienced, higher paid) nurses cheaply rather than be up front and honest and give the contracted redundancy payment. Oh yes and of course the nurses will be resigning and that way the government can't be accused of making front line staff redundant.
    Isn't there anyone in the Dept of Health looking at all the changes and seeing where they conflict? Is thre anyone there who knows what they are doing?

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  • Is this privatization by the back door.
    I dont remember any of these reforms being mentioned in the manifestos
    what training have GPs had to enable them to administer such vast sums of money I despair for the nhs

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  • rovergirl6@hotmail.com

    crazy thats all i can say.

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  • Although this is being offered to organisations that are being 'scrapped'... surely staff should be offered other posts at a comparable salary first anyway?? This pay out would need to be very carefully looked at. Would they still be able to apply for other NHS jobs within the year and not lose the money? Will you find another job by then? What terms and conditions does it come with? It may affect pensions and also, if you take this pay off, what would happen if the individual was then in the unfortunate place of more swingeing cuts and made redundant in the future? Steady on there, folks. For me I have years of continuous service so a year's salary may or may not be worth it. However, for anyone wanting to get out of this horrible NHS then it might be good. After 32 years of nursing I have never felt so demoralised and worthless even though I work lots of extra hours (covering a vacant post), to ensure that cancer patients are supported. I can't wait to get to early retirement as I cannot bear it much longer. Before I was undecided but no such qualms now. Get out while I still have a chance of other work. With every new Government, we face change but I can honestly say that this Government takes the prize for ruining the NHS in the shortest possible time. I have been here before. Almost overnight following the election results, our Trust has become an organisation run on bullying and harrassment en masse and everything is about 'getting you out' to save money. And it has actually been said that you do what we say, full stop. As a senior clinical nurse, I find this appalling. We still have sick and needy people to look after, debts or no debts and I believe in the NHS wholeheartedly. There is so much waste in the NHS but unless you 'ban' sick people then you need staff and to spend money. As usual, the Conservative government is having an ill informed knee jerk reaction to being 'in charge', thinking that the country will be grateful. Not if you are sick you won't, but hey, how many of the Conservatives would need to use the NHS? Probably very few... more likely private care for them so hey, they are 'all right Jack'.

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  • Is this just away to find out who would leave, refuse them , then make them redundant anyway. Do we think there will be an NHS in five years time? We will all be social enterprises, already been decided, just a matter of time, some plans already been implemented. Just what is the future of nursing, scary stuff.

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  • Problem with experienced nurses is that they are more able to challenge managers who want to make change for change sake in the forlorn (delusional) hope of saving money!!!!. Experienced nurses seem to be the only ones who know what a staffing ratio should look like and what it takes to provide a quality service. MAKES SENSE TO ENCOURAGE THEM TO LEAVE DOES IT NOT.

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  • Steve Williams

    @ Anonymous | 7-Sep-2010 11:56 am

    “Is there anyone there who knows what they are doing?”

    Short answer... NO!

    Another example of the 'clueless' being led by the blind!

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  • I'm with anon above - I too have worked with managers who believe that bullying staff is the way forward - they promote their pals and seem to do ok while the rest of us do all the over time with no extra pay - hope they all apply and we get rid of the useless so called senior nurses who don't nurse but waltz around pen pushing and laying down their own particular patronising laws. Having worked with GPs for many years I'm with them at least they see patients and know what needs doing.

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  • Steve Williams

    @ Anonymous | 7-Sep-2010 11:56 am

    “Is there anyone there who knows what they are doing?”

    Short answer... NO!

    Another example of the 'clueless' being led by the blind!

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  • Yes they do know what they're doing. They are privatising the care of people. Individual companies/GP business consortiums will be/are providing healthcare services. Healthcare professionals will be negotiating their pay, pension and conditions on an individual basis (No professional group monopolies on statuatory scales of pay etc).

    No NHS as we have known it in the past

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