The RCN’s officer for Essex Mike Kavanagh on why nurses should look carefully at the benefits of their NHS employer
The lifeblood of any organisation is its staff and, like blood, healthy employees need proper care. Southend University Hospital Foundation Trust has shown that moving away from national terms and conditions is not in the best interest of its staff and, in refusing to match the current national pay award for staff earning less than £21,000, has shown a complete lack of care.
The trust defended its position by stating that 95% of staff voted to move away from national terms and conditions yet failed to mention that this was before Agenda for Change was introduced.
The recent news story “Trust holds back pay rise from lowest band staff” on nursingtimes.net generated a number of comments with a common theme of reducing the pay of staff on band 8 and 9. However, these comments failed to take into account that by not having a pay rise for two years, the value of pay for most staff, including senior staff, has already gone down in real terms.
“We have reached a point in history where NHS staff need to carefully assess the benefits of each employer to ensure they know how much they will get paid and how secure their future will be”
Employees who earn less than £21,000 are now being denied an increase of just over 1% paid to most low paid staff in the rest of the NHS.
Comments were also made about the fact that staff did not complain when they were paid more than staff on national terms. But newly employed staff could take several years to receive the same pay and associated terms and conditions as staff on national terms. The trust’s “Gainshare” scheme is one of the few bonus schemes in the NHS but, like any other similar scheme, it is not guaranteed and it is based upon the performance of the trust as a whole rather than individual performance.
The future of pay and associated terms and conditions is under increasing threat. Foundation trusts have significant autonomy to move away from national terms and conditions, and NHS trusts that become Social Enterprises cannot offer new staff access to the NHS pension scheme.
We have reached a point in history where NHS staff need to carefully assess the benefits of each employer in order to ensure that they know how much they will get paid and how secure their future will be.
National terms and conditions are designed to be fair and consistent and, while there will continue to be arguments about local variations in the cost of living, they have been designed to meet the needs of the service while still offering a competitive salary.
Mike Kavanagh is Royal College of Nursing officer for Essex