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NHS chief 'disappointed' at lack of local pay deals


The health service’s efficiency chief has said it is “disappointing” that only one foundation trust has so far moved away from the Agenda for Change pay framework – and added that nursing jobs will change “radically” in the coming years.

Jim Easton, the NHS Commissioning Board’s director for improvement and transformation, made the remarks in an online seminar organised by Nursing Times’s sister title Health Service Journal.

Mr Easton, a former chief executive of York Hospitals Foundation Trust, said: “It has been interesting for me how few foundation trust have used their freedoms to try and find new ways of negotiating contracts.

Although foundation trusts are free to enter into local pay agreements, so far on Southend University Hospitals Foundation Trust has done so.

“I think it’s disappointing,” Mr Easton said. However, he added: “I think we’ll continue to see pressure [on pay] on both fronts, both on a nationally negotiated deal, and with more people wanting flexibility locally.”

In addition, Mr Easton said “proper application of technology” should enable the NHS to cut staff costs and provide care closer to home.

“I would be delighted if we could keep all our current nurses in post, but if we do that we need people whose jobs are radically different,” he said.

Mr Easton also revealed that “pretty intense negotiation” was ongoing around pay and increments at a national level between the Department of Health and unions.

The discussions were “around getting the Agenda for Change package right, in a way that’s fair, and respects the way people came in but also recognises the times we’re in”, he said.

“I think the public thought that when we froze pay, we froze pay - not that there continued to be significant increases.”

Mr Easton said: “I’ve personally been working with national trade union colleagues on seeking to get agreements, to be honest to have further pay constraint, to allow us to protect jobs.

“The way we’ll make sure we’ll protect people in employment on the front line is by change and taking a hard line on basic pay.”

He also praised work on patient safety being done in Scotland, and said the NHS in England must be more prepared to learn from best practice being developed


Readers' comments (12)

  • I say lead by example. Have you or any other chiefs taken pay cuts?? Doubt it. Before you start penny pinching from the staff who provide and maintain the service, look at yourselves. Chief executives are on the £175,000pa mark (and the rest!) which could fund 7 band 5s or 8-9 band 2s-4s. The service wouldn't collapse without you. It would without us. Ask a patient who they'd prefer at their bedside; you or us?! Ask a patient who they think doesn't get paid enough and who gets paid too much; think we all know that answer! Do you miss your breaks? Work past your finishing time without payment? Regularly work nights, weekends and bank holidays? No. Instead of trying to save money by taking our wages, save money by getting those on a much higher wage to expand their roles. Far too often have we seen several managers and modern matrons stood together discussing the how's and who's in regards to creating beds. Why don't you put on an apron, a pair of gloves and come care for the patient. Perhaps then, when there's a better staff to patient ratio, will length of stay be reduced as care will be delivered more effectively and beds readily available to take new admissions. It's not our wages you need to reassess; it's yours.

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  • it would be an idea for all those involved in the management of patient care work a statutory three months on a hospital ward or in a care home during their training like medical students do in European countries, and with a formal evaluation at the end to demonstrate that the principles of care, resources it requires and excellent communication skills and teamwork have been thoroughly understood. Nobody should be offered a management post even as CEO without having gone through this experience and demonstrated their abilities.

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  • Anonymous 28-Apr-2012 1:17 am

    Lead by example - I second that. Good comments

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  • I am in full support of the previously posted comments. Nursing pay is extremely moderate. All of this talk about regional pay was always going to be about reducing terms and conditions for nurses. We are the ones (nurses) who are dealt the full brunt of changes in the Health Services and to suggest we earn less than we already do is infuriating and wont have me going the extra mile any longer. Oh sorry that didnt get done - tough twelve hour operation honey! Upper level managers with no clinical experience haven't a clue of the circumstances we are faced with clinically and I support that they should do clinical work to see how it feels to hear you are being short changed again amid so much other change going on in the NHS. Enough is enough. I understand the country is in a poor financial state but hey look at london underground. A public service which gave a 5% rise to its frontline staff. How as nurses are we able to live with ourselves if a london underground worker working the gateline starts on £30,000 with 10 weeks annual leave and free travel.

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  • think we are all about to get another good shafting. It just keeps getting worse and worse. We appear not to be seen as a valued profession anymore but as a commodity, basically it sounds like like it or lump it.

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  • Agenda for Change was fair! I am so sick of this crap man!

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  • When I worked with the airlines we always had incremental pay rises. Agenda for Change was designed to evaluate for nursing and professional contributions to the professions against certain criteria. Where there were performance issues or members of staff were failing to meet objectives or standards, these should have been or should be addressed. Repeated dangerous or poor practices should not be acceptable and the scope is well within the remit of agenda for change for demotion. You'd have to be in a pretty bad situation to get to that but I think if we start making pay reward more complicated than it has to be is a highly divisive issue in the NHS at a time when we can expect private companies to come in and take over, or expect working to 68 for some of us, and closure of services. We have already given and continue to give so much. There are way too many demands at once.

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  • What a pompous little windbag, lions being led by donkeys comes to mind.

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  • If we are going to implement regional pay in the NHS lets start at the top; chief executives and senior managers can lead the way.... then junior managers and senior nurses at board level, when everybody at band 8b and above has tried it and agreed that its a fabulous idea, particularly the ones who have taken a pay cut, I might be more inclined to give the idea some consideration. Of course I would also be writing to my MP to ask him to support regional pay for politicians and to my union expecting the union bosses to also accept regional pay for them and their management staff. Fat chance I reckon.

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  • on the Comments page 30.04.2012


    Various Opportunities - Shetland
    Band 6 Salary Range: £25,528 - £34,189 per annum

    for those complaining of lack of jobs and inadequate salaries!?

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