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Downbanding of specialist nurses is 'unacceptable', says minister


The downbanding of specialist nursing posts by cash-strapped trusts attempting to save money is “unacceptable”, a government minister has stated.

Speaking last week at a pre-election debate organised by the Royal College of Nursing, health minister Dr Dan Poulter said the NHS needed to support more nurses to take on specialist roles, citing in particular diabetes care, mental health and children’s healthcare.

“I would send a very strong message to employers that downbanding is unacceptable”

Dan Poulter

However, he was challenged about the devaluing of existing specialist roles by trusts, through the moving of nurses down the Agenda for Change pay framework.

“You talk about investing in specialist nurses, but what we’re hearing a lot about at the moment is people who have those skills being downbanded and being asked to work at a lower level,” said the event’s chair, RCN head of campaigns and external affairs Jane Hughes.

In response, Dr Poulter stated that he did not think was downbanding is a “good idea” and was “something that I certainly don’t support”.

“Certainly it shouldn’t be the case that someone should be arbitrarily downbanded, because working in healthcare is a back-breakingly hard job and it is incredibly demoralising if that sort of thing happens,” he said.

Asked by Ms Hughes if that was a message he would send to trusts, he said: “I would send a very strong message to employers that downbanding is unacceptable.” 

The event was also attended by Liberal Democrat care minister Norman Lamb and Labour’s shadow health secretary Andy Burnham.

The three politicians debated with each other, facing a series of questions on nursing and NHS policy from Ms Hughes and the audience.

Royal College of Nursing

Norman Lamb, Dan Poulter and Andy Burnham at the RCN election hustings


Readers' comments (14)

  • I don't think the trusts are listening to you. Our community specialist nurses are being culled and debanded to save money as we speak. Unless the TRUST has more money this will not change. They have already warned us that they will be back next year to do more of the same as they will have have to save more millions by then. So much for nursing in the community and keeping patients out of hospital!!!!

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  • Typical electioneering by politicians.
    Down-banding has been happening for a long while. It not only has a financial implication to those affected but also has a professional impact to seniority etc.
    I was down-banded to an 8A and along with this went my title of Nurse consultant, something I had worked very hard on & strived to achieve. It is disgraceful and devaluing with the recipients continuing to work at the same level, or harder for less money. Its also important that colleagues from around the country affected by this unacceptable decisions have found that the unions have been useless in protecting us from these "personal" attacks, especially in times of austerity (Protected pay only lasts so long and living... and I have had to face a cut of £10,000 / year on my wages). If the government want votes, they will have to learn that the NHS does not run itself and it needs senior nurses like us to stop it from crumbling under the weight of all the bureaucratic nonsense and keep a sense of quality and patient care as our primary objectives.

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  • Too late, its already happened!

    Well said anon: 12:55pm!

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  • this has been happening since AfC was introduced , especially with specialist Nurses as opposed to Specialist Nurses.

    A certain trust well known for it's less than stellar staff relations couldn't cope with the concept never mind the finances that Senior Staff Nurses (formerly E grades) might have banded as 6 based on their clinical role when their F grade colleagues also banded as 6s based on their floor management role ... Not helped by the fact that the lead Nurses for that service only got band 7 same as the other senior Sisters/CN ...

    the NHS needs senior Nurses, but i 'm not sure that some of the senior nurses from the past 15 years are the right ones , and we'll ignore the elephant i nthe corner of the tensions between (some ) traditionally trained Ward Managers and an increasingly Educated cadre of Staff Nurses and 'Junior' Sisters/CN...

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  • too late, he is just after votes, what he really means lets pay nurses as cheaply as we can legally do so, I expect hunt wants the minimum wage banned too, what he really means replace specialist nurse with HCAs

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  • This looks like the way things are going and I don't agree with it. There is already a national shortage of skilled nurses and it's no surprise as to why. Who after many years of nursing back in the 80's have now become skilled are the backbone of the NHS, are sadly leaving as they get debanded. We should be paid for our skills to support junior staff, doctors and ensure that patients get the best care possible. I refuse to be paid less for my skills as my job carries a very high level of responsibility - close to that of a GP or Dr on the wards. We must stand against debanding or else there'll be no skilled nurses ledpft to keep the already crumbling NHS going!

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  • Its not selective people its all nursing staff as this is putting pressure on the rest by consultants trying to crack the whip because there patients arnt moving down the que quick enough yes hear!hear! iwas
    debanded too! To a


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  • It's disgusting that nurses who worked hard to get a band E which was equivalent to band 6 had their bands downgraded to save money. They are doing even more work than before and with less pension to look forward to. But everyone just accepts it so no wonder they get away with it.

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  • Another shafting of nursing staff it would appear!!
    If the NHS wishes to save money perhaps they should look at all the service managers they have in place who appear, to frontline staff, to be doing very little!
    In my trust we have 3!!!! band 8a nurses newly appointed to help patient flow and capacity! It's disgusting!
    And maybe the NHS should reconsider it's sickness policy! I'm sick of seeing staff on longterm sick yet every weekend they're all over social media sites on the lash!!
    There are definitely other ways to save money as opposed to shafting nurses! Again!!!!

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  • well you nurses know what to do on election day then...get rid of these tories

    they are hell bent on ruining our NHS and have never ever valued the hard working staff that the NHS relies on

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