A Labour government would draw up a new agreement with the NHS workforce including a commitment not to renege on staff pay recommendations, the party has promised.
Unveiling its 10 year plan for the NHS today, Labour said it would enter into a new ‘compact’ with the 1.3m NHS staff to “lift morale and improve patient care.”
This would include appointing a new “NHS staff champion” responsible for improving workplace culture and reducing bullying, work-related stress and sickness absence.
NHS trade unions are currently locked in a pay dispute with the coalition government over its decision to reject the NHS Pay Review Body recommendation of a 1 per cent pay rise for all NHS staff.
If Labour wins the general election in May the party says it will “recommit to the Pay Review Body process and pledge not to renege irresponsibly on pay deals like current ministers”.
Labour said measures taken by its proposed staff champion “could include requiring NHS organisations to have a staff health and wellbeing strategy; ensuring that management practices are in line with HSE management standards on work-related stress; promoting a culture of open communication and inclusion; and supporting all staff in raising concerns about safety, malpractice or wrongdoing.”
It will also take a ‘zero-tolerance’ approach to physical or verbal abuse putting in place access to conflict resolution training, a system to record incidents of violence and consulting police over whether they need new powers such as on the spot fines for violence against NHS staff.
Labour’s plan for the NHS includes a promise to fund 20,000 extra nurses, 8,000 GPs, 3,000 midwives and 5,000 homecare staff paid for out of its £2.5bn Time to Care Fund.
Labour also committed to consult staff on future changes to the NHS saying the ‘compact’ with staff would rule out further top-down reorganisation.
Labour said the improvements in workplace culture will help reduce work-related stress and sickness absence that costs the NHS £1.6 billion a year as well as the cost of agency staff.