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Regional pay 'cartel' claims it can save 6,000 jobs

  • 46 Comments

More than 6,000 NHS “jobs” in the South West could be saved if major changes go ahead to staff pay, and terms and conditions, it has been claimed.

The controversial South West Consortium of NHS trusts has published two “discussion” documents exploring the challenges it claims the NHS is facing and why action needs to be taken to address them.

As previously reported by Nursing Times, the consortium – described as a “cartel” by unions – is considering breaking away from the national Agenda for Change framework.

The new documents are a clear move by the consortium to try and build a case for drawing up its own regional version of the pay framework, although it has stressed no decisions have yet been made.

Dorset Healthcare Foundation Trust has become the latest organisation to pay a £10,000 membership fee to join the group, taking the total number of NHS trusts involved to 20. Together, they employ around 68,000 NHS staff across the South West.

Within the documents, the consortium claims a more “fit for purpose” system of pay and terms and conditions could safeguard more than 6,000 jobs in the region.

Some of the potential ways the consortium believes it could save money include reducing annual leave, changing consultant on-call supplements, adding extra working hours, reducing incremental pay, and reducing sick pay benefits.

The changes would be applied not just to staff on Agenda for Change but also to all grades of doctors, board directors, very senior managers, bank and agency staff and interim workers.

One of the documents states: “The alternative to addressing pay, terms and conditions is a wholesale reduction in headcount which, in potentially compromising minimum staffing levels and therefore patient safety, is extremely undesirable and costly.”

A full business case for the changes, which will also contain a series of recommendations, will be presented to each of the group’s trusts for discussion by their borads later this year.

The consortium has said it remains committed to national negotiations on changes to Agenda for Change. Unions, however, have accused the 20 trusts in the consortium of undermining those talks.

Christina McAnea, chair of the NHS staff-side council and Unison’s head of health, said: “This organisation has no status, or authority to enter into negotiations, and the trades unions will not be engaging with any proposals made by the cartel to cut pay, terms and conditions of our members.”

She warned the changes being mooted could harm, rather than help, the NHS in the South West, and also criticised the money trusts were spending on setting up the consortium.

“It beggars belief that at a time of financial constraint across the NHS, 20 trusts have ploughed £200,000 into a scheme whose only outcome will be to penalise hard-working staff,” she said. “This short term fix designed to address cost pressures is a negative move for employers, staff and patients.”

Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust chief executive Chris Bown, who is chair of the consortium, said: “Consortium trusts are fully supportive of the national negotiations between employer representatives and unions.

“We believe we can and should work in the background as these discussions continue to give us the best opportunity to be sustainable organisations in the years ahead.”

But a Department of Health spokesman strongly hinted the cartel had come about because unions were dragging their heels in negotiations, saying that some NHS trusts were “frustrated” a national deal had not been reached on Agenda for Change proposals over the past 18 months.

“The need for local negotiations could be significantly reduced if the NHS staff council were able to bring national negotiations to a swift and successful conclusion,” he said.

  • 46 Comments

Readers' comments (46)

  • A cynic might say that all these cuts in pay, leave etal will make what's left of the NHS a more attractive proposition for the American health insurance companies waiting in the wings to snap up what's left. If the Government were able to get rid of the pensions then the job as they say is a good un.

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  • tinkerbell

    brief summary of proposed changes so far that have featured on NT.

    Pensions - pay more, work longer for less. Increased retirement age.


    Pay cartels plans to change terms and conditions of agenda for change. Earn less, increased hours, decreased sick leave/ annual leave, withdrawing enhancements.

    NMC planned increased fee.Not fit for purpose.

    Frontline staff cut, redeployments, unit closures. Vacancies not being filled.

    Increase in use of agency staff.

    Decreased services in some specialities.

    Private sector beds being bought in NHS hospitals. My unit has 5, another unit 5, 10 in total beds of our 40 bedded unit are now for private sector.

    UK Plc to sell NHS logo abroad to bring in extra income to help pay for NHS users/services in UK.

    Some newly qualified staff unable to find jobs.

    Please fill in any blanks i have forgotten.







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  • tinkerbell

    The times they are achanging
    and we're all in this together
    but some of us are more in 'it'
    and i don't mean the weather.

    We're just meant to work and work
    and save their bacon
    and when we're all hard up and broken
    they'll be on vacation.

    Although we're nearly down and out
    and buckling at the knee
    we're trying to keep our spirits up
    by rapping on NT

    Cos' regional pay cartels
    are doing us a favour
    they're intend to save our jobs
    by increasing all our labour.

    So we can work for less
    to help each other out
    You couldn't make it up
    but they're trying to bail us out.

    Of a sorry mess created
    by them in the first place
    but it seems we all have to get screwed
    so they can all save face.

    It seems to make no sense
    but then what would they care
    the money's rolling in
    on their big money cart
    they're guaranteed a fortune
    but have no heart.

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  • Get rid of ALL the unnecessary pen pushers who never see or speak to a patient. A service fit for purpose-if this were any other 'business model' with a plethora of hierarchical pay-lechers that band of staff would be removed & voilà you have saved money.

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  • tinkerbell

    Anonymous | 26-Aug-2012 7:55 pm

    totally agree, or as we call them the LBDN's

    'look busy doing nothing'.

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  • tinkerbell

    sorry meant to add it usually involves a clipboard as part of the special effect.

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  • tinkerbell

    Anonymous | 24-Aug-2012 1:33 pm

    I understand your point, so what of the nurses who want to be hands on nurses and involved in hands on patient care? Will they have to become HCA's ?

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  • Sorry Tinkerbell but your comment

    'if HCAs underwent standardised training and regulation which was sufficient to maintain standards of basic care and nurses concentrated on more specialist skills and managing the ward maybe this would be a more cost effective strategy...'

    This situation already exists in most clinical areas and is this not the old EN but without resitration and adequate pay? Full circle again but on the cheap in my opinion!

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  • Too many chief and not enough Indians....get rid of some of the chiefs, that's what I say, that will save money. How many patients will it take to die unnecessary until they realise more nurses are needed. They pick on the nurses cus they know we wont strike. About time we took action peeps.

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  • tinkerbell

    Anonymous | 28-Aug-2012 12:21 pm

    'if HCAs underwent standardised training and regulation which was sufficient to maintain standards of basic care and nurses concentrated on more specialist skills and managing the ward maybe this would be a more cost effective strategy

    Did I say this, doesn't sound like me?

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