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Agenda for Change - New skills and banding

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Nursing Times’ ongoing series on Agenda for Change answers your questions on the new pay system

Question

I am a mental health nurse on Band 6, working in a nurse-led substance misuse clinic. I am training as a nurse prescriber, but have been warned by my trust that this does not mean I will move to Band 7. Is this right? I thought the AfC pay system rewarded nurses for new skills and responsibilities.

Answer

Unfortunately, this is right. There is not an automatic upgrading as a consequence of developing skills, at least not in the short term.

How Agenda for Change works is that because it is an ‘equal pay for work of equal value? system, it aims to fairly value and fairly grade posts, not people. There is a common misunderstanding that it works the other way around. AfC gives points for a job and not for the individual doing the job.

The course for nurse prescribing or something else like a master’s in public health could be teaching qualifications that are not actually needed to do your job. You might want to better yourself, but if it is not absolutely necessary for the job, then you won?t automatically move up the pay scale.

However, you may have some hope if you have been told your job requires you to have this training. If the increase in skills through the course is needed for your job because the nature of it has changed, then you ought to asking for your job to be re-evaluated.

A post is evaluated and the job is tested on a range of factors to see how it should be valued. For the individual in the job, they have to look at - together with their manager - a Knowledge and Skills Framework outline that describes the competencies and dimensions of a job.

The individual is then measured against those competencies to see whether there is a gap and if so, then they will be provided with, theoretically, the necessary training and development. This is when it may become clear that the job they want you to be doing is actually one higher up on the pay scale.

Doing a nurse prescribing training course is a good idea for your career in the long-term anyway - it is all about increasing and enhancing your skills and allowing progression for promotion opportunities.

What it will do is ensure you are more able to apply for other jobs that do require the qualification, so you would be much more likely to move up the pay scale by applying for those jobs.

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