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FTs flirt with diluting Agenda for Change

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Foundation trusts have publicly signalled their intention to move away from nationally negotiated staff terms and conditions, which unions warn could increase “industrial disharmony”.

Unlike other NHS organisations, foundation trusts are allowed to negotiate local terms and conditions, if their workforce agrees, though only one – Southend University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust – has previously done so.

Until now, few of the other 137 foundation trusts have been willing to admit in public that they were considering locally negotiated changes to Agenda for Change.

But analysis by Nursing Times of documents setting out foundation trusts’ plans for the next three years show employers in at least three regions are considering moving away from Agenda for Change as part of efforts to make savings.

Mid Cheshire Hospitals FT’s plan said it was “working alongside other providers at a regional level to consider options to negotiate alternative terms and conditions” on areas including incremental progression and sick pay.

University Hospital of South Manchester Foundation Trust’s plan said from 2012 onwards its board will consider “proposals for changes to terms and conditions outside of the national framework”.

Meanwhile Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health FT said it would complete an options appraisal “regarding a move away from Agenda for Change”, as part of plans to save £2.6m a year on terms and conditions and staff allowances by 2014.

And in the South East, Royal Surrey County Hospital FT has recently polled staff to see if they would accept watering down national terms in exchange for fewer job cuts (news, page 4, 30 May).

In April, the Royal College of Nursing passed a motion backing a ballot for industrial action if an employer attempted to impose anything “which challenges the nationally agreed pay agreement”.

RCN head of employment relations Josie Irwin said employers might achieve “short term benefits” in cost savings from moving away from Agenda for Change, but warned they may not understand the costs of “engaging in those kinds of discussions, with all their potential for industrial disharmony”.

Some trusts may also adopt other tactics. For example, Calderstones Partnership FT said it was setting up a “social enterprise” subsidiary, which will employ staff on non-NHS terms. From 2013-14 the trust aims to start switching its existing business contracts to the cheaper subsidiary.

Ms Irwin called the Calderstones plan “aggressive, threatening and crude”. A Calderstones spokesman said any changes would involve engagement with staff.

  • 5 Comments

Readers' comments (5)

  • if any of the staff in these trusts vote to move away from agenda for change-god help them in the future

    southend FT is not in agenda for change and aleady this year they did not pay their lowest paid staff the £250 a year pay rise
    this will only get worse

    you will find the cheif execs of these trusts making these decisions are on very very high salaries and dont care a jot about the lower paid staff

    do this at your peril, your working conditions WILL get worse and dont be fooled by the no job losses, have a look around you, its happening anyway!!!!

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  • Nothing new here I’m afraid, there were several Trusts in my patch that didn’t offer Whitley Scale rates to new staff members in the late 90’s early 00‘s. These Trusts were then forced to go back to offering Whitley rates when recruitment and retention became a problem. The difference now is that these Trusts have merged or have been disbanded: within a 20 mile radius of where I live, I had the option of working for around ten NHS Trust - now there are only three! Recruitment and retention is no longer a problem these FT’s are businesses so are going to do whatever they can get away with.

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  • A contract (even of employment) cannot be unilaterally changed, both parties must consent to the changes.

    If, for example, the nurse has been TUPE'd over from a PCT to a FT under an 'as is' agreement eg. AfC prior to TUPE = AfC post TUPE then they should think very carefully about changing a contract which has been considered and negotiated by Union Officials and lawyers specifically trained in that area of expertise.

    If the member of staff thinks they can cut a better deal with the FT - they have only themselves to blame when it all goes pear-shaped: remember the old motto that if something seems too good to be true - it generally is and FTs are about making money or at least, not giving it away to their staff!

    Unfortunately, even the most intelligent nurse is too often seduced by the offer of more cash that they forget about the less obvious benefits of their current terms and conditons eg more money on the top line but only 2 weeks paid sick leave per year (no good if you need a hysterectomy or cancer treatments).

    Beware of FT's (or anyone else for that matter) bearing 'gifts'.

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  • I have out have taken out a greviance regarding my grading for AFC, and I am still waiting a hearing. Managers will try to ensure the staff work for lest possible salary, but they will not take a decrease. We are the ones working odd hours and unsocialable hours. Would like some of them to do a shift in my shoes

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  • in my trust they are downbanding loads of staff

    at the same time recruiting more managers
    unbelievable!!!

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