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Milton: Local pay increment freezes still on the table

  • 7 Comments

Trusts will be encouraged to decide locally with nursing staff whether to freeze increments in return for increased job security, health minister Anne Milton has indicated.

Ms Milton drew heckles at the Royal College of Nursing congress today, when she insisted a national pay increments freeze rejected by the union would remain on the table at local level.

She told delegates that the country was “walking a financial tightrope”, and that difficult decisions would continue to have to be made.

“Pay restraint is one of those difficult decisions,” she said. “But the bottom line is that it does protect jobs.”

In the future, she said, “individual NHS organisations will be able to decide, in consultation with staff, whether to opt into the national enabling framework”.

Ms Milton said: “Opting in means no compulsory redundancies for Agenda for Change staff in bands 1 to 6, and as few as possible for all other staff, in return for a two-year freeze on incremental progression. It would mean 80% of Agenda for Change staff would be protected.”

Her words drew angry shouts of “no” from many on the congress floor. The deal, first suggested in December by NHS Employers, was rejected by the RCN and other unions in January.

Ms Milton, a former district nurse and RCN steward, pressed on: “I want each different area to make up their own minds about whether or not they want to do that – but the option is there to take up if you want.”

Following the speech, RCN chief executive and general secretary Peter Carter said: “That was the first we’d heard of that. It’s one of the things that was immediately noted, and we will have to follow through what all this means.”

He continued: “I think she was indicating that they still want to pursue this. Now we have to work [with] the service and the Department of Health to say as far as we’re concerned [an] increments [freeze] is off the agenda, and we have rejected it.”

Ms Milton also emphasised the role that nurses would have in commissioning services, but fell short of saying they would be guaranteed a place on the boards of GP consortia.

“There has been a lot of talk about GP commissioning”, she said. “It’s been portrayed as a bunch of GPs being put in the driving seat, but that is not at all how it will be.

“I know first-hand the unique insight that nurses have, and we want to use that insight, that knowledge, that experience, to improve commissioning. We expect to see a full range of professional input.”

  • 7 Comments

Readers' comments (7)

  • It should be a big fat NO to freezing increments at either national or local level. How dare Anne Milton suggest this, especially as she was a nurse herself; she is betraying us all. We all know that some efficiency savings have to be made, but also know that a lot of money is wasted in this country too. This government are going for soft targets where they think they will get away with it.
    I'm glad she was heckled at congress; shame Andrew Lansley hasn't got the balls to speak at congress, he would be heckled big time!!

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  • INDUSTRIAL ACTION NEEDED NOW; THE GOVERNMENT WON'T LISTEN UNTIL WE STOP PUSSYFOOTING AROUND!!

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  • We don't believe a word you say Ms Milton

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  • aaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrgggggggggghhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!

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  • The Tories are so very divisive. Why bands 1 to 6. Could they not have the decency to see nurses all as one profession?

    Typical Tory approach to divide and rule.

    I would be very happy to strike over this.

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  • It doesn't matter what band a nurse is on, we all play an essential role in the smooth running of the NHS.

    Putting a freeze on increments for bands 1-6 may mean that 80% of staff are protected from compulsary redundancy but what about the rest of us?

    I am a band 7 specialist nurse within an acute trust. Other than ensuring that patients receive appropriate diabetes care and that other health care professionals are appropriately trained, I am responsible for reducing patients length of stay. By doing this save the Trust a considerable amount of money (more than enough to cover my costs and the yearly increments of many other trust staff)
    Specialist Nurse posts are always vunerable when times are hard when the powers that be can only see the savings that can be made by getting rid of us rather than the money that we actually save on a daily basis. Nice to see that the government are now wanting to put a sign round our necks saying 'easy target'
    (Apologise for the rant but I have been here before)

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  • I can rant too, the number of times I have commented on the 'divide and rule' senario, which has always existed in our profession. In turn it nurtures the notion of 'I'm alright Jack...'. So many blogs on here end up 'having a go' at each other When will we learn that we need to unite as a profession and not be led into the 'banding' division', amongst others? Another experience of nursing the NHS (maybe only a personal observation, but I doubt it) is that it is the 'puppets' that get the top jobs.

    “Pay restraint is one of those difficult decisions,” she said. “But the bottom line is that it does protect jobs.” Yeah right, emotional blackmail, yet again! Perhaps we need to call their bluff?

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