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NHS managers asked to declare support for freeze on staff pay increments


Senior NHS managers are being asked to sign a declaration drafted by NHS Employers setting out their reasons for supporting a two year freeze in staff pay increments in exchange for “no compulsory redundancy” guarantees.

The letter is currently being sent around NHS organisations for discussion and redrafting. However the original draft is published today on (below).

Although the letter has been circulated by NHS Employers, HSJ understands at least one trade union was also involved in discussions that led to its drafting, as it is keen to promote the proposed deal and over turn negative feedback from both its rank and file members, and its national representatives who are concerned NHS organisations may renege on the no compulsory redundancy side of the deal and that the need for the NHS to make substantial savings has been exagerated.

The email circulating the draft letter, from NHS Employers director for core services Gill Bellord, states: “We think it essential that the strength of employer views and the rationale for withholding increments are made public.”

Ms Bellord goes on to explain that those who have been sent the letter are either those who have already agreed to sign or who have been identified as likely to be in agreement. The email and letter have been further circulated throughout the NHS.

The letter, which NHS Employers planned to be published across the health service and medical press on New Year’s Eve, states: “We the undersigned support the need to make such a proposal and believe that the proposal is one we are very willing to work with. This letter aims to make clear the reasons why trusts see this proposal as a win for them and a win for staff.

“Although the NHS has been offered significant protection of funding, rising costs and increasing demand for patient care make the next two years a huge challenge and we expect to have to make efficiency savings of well over 5 per cent per year. [S]alaries represent 60 to 70 per cent of our costs so do we need to explore measures to contain the pay bill. NHS Employers’ proposal represents a practical way forward which maintains the integrity of the nationally agreed pay systems.”

Ms Bellord said the letter was being sent by NHS Employers on behalf of managers. It had been “prompted by the service”, she said, after NHS Employers received a number of calls from chief executives in support of the proposed deal.

The proposed deal would freeze Agenda for Change increments for two years in exchange for a no compulsory redundancy guarantee for staff on pay bands 1 to 6. However staff on higher bands would not be given guarantees as it is thought harder to redeploy staff who generally have a higher level of specialism and expertise.

Unison’s senior national officer for health Mike Jackson said his union had no involvement in drafting the letter.

He said: “Our service group executive is due to meet on January 10 and will have to decide whether to accept, reject or consider the plan further.

“With the surpluses in parts of the system there is scope for a no-compulsory-redundancies deal. But is it [the increment freeze] a price our members are willing to pay? We have yet to make that decision.”

He said all the relevant unions were due to meet separately to discuss the offer between the 10 and 20 of January.

Josie Irwin, head of employment relations at the Royal College of Nursing, said: “We find it interesting that the employers should be seeking support for their proposal in this way and at this time.

“We can say categorically that the RCN was not involved in drafting this letter and find it difficult to believe that any other union would be.”

Read the letter distributed by NHS Employers in full below:



Dear Sir,

You have reported on the NHS Employers proposals to the Staff Side of the NHS Staff Council for a national framework agreement involving a freeze in incremental progression which NHS Organisations can use where there is agreement locally.

In summary, each organisation adopting the framework would freeze pay increments for all staff for a two year period and guarantee not to make compulsory redundancies for staff earning at or below the equivalent of the maximum of Agenda for Change Band 6 during the same period

We the undersigned support the need to make such a proposal and believe that the proposal is one we are very willing to work with. This letter aims to make clear the reasons why Trusts see this proposal as a win for them and a win for staff. Although the NHS has been offered significant protection of funding in the most recent spending round, rising costs and increasing demand for patient care make the next two years a huge challenge and we expect to have to make efficiency savings of well over 5 per cent per year. We are looking at all areas of expenditure to find savings but salaries represent 60 to 70 per cent of our costs so do we need to explore measures to contain the pay bill. NHS Employers’ proposal represents a practical way forward which maintains the integrity of the nationally agreed pay systems.

Each of our organisations has plans to improve quality and productivity over the period of the spending review, but these will take time to deliver benefits. In the mean time we want to maximise employment security for our staff and retain their skills in the NHS. We know from local feedback and surveys that Trade Unions have undertaken, that job security is a key concern for staff. We will be having a very open dialogue with our staff locally so that the benefit of these ideas can be explored with them

In summary, we believe that this is a fair deal and one that can be delivered. It is not only desirable as a way of dealing with financial pressures it is essential in order to be able to protect employment and staffing levels.

Yours sincerely





Readers' comments (20)

  • I just wanted to voice my opinion on the proposed incremental pay freeze. I agree with the RCN sentiment that compulsory redundancies are unlikely to have an impact upon the majority of nurses and that the real impact upon nurses and patient care is likely to come from recruitment freezes, natural wastage and service re-evaluation. I am also concerned with the plans for nurses like myself who are on a band 7 or above, who are not included in the proposal.

    However, for me the biggest issue for nurses, therapists, pharmacists, technicians etc. is that the incremental rise is an incentive for professional staff to develop and gain financial reward for this development. As a band 5 staff nurse in my first job I was a completely different nurse to the one I was 5 years later as I had developed my knowledge and skills base. I was a mentor and preceptor to junior staff and student’s; I had a degree in cardiology and was able to work in many different areas of the cardiology department. Again as a band 7 specialist nurse I have developed considerably within the 18 months of my current post. I have a specialist qualification at masters level, have a clinical skills qualification and have a place on a nurse prescribing course next year.

    Although we need porters, domestic staff, admin staff and technical staff and they are an important part of the MDT they do not and are not expected to develop as professionals are and as such you can see the argument for stopping the increments for these posts. Unfortunately, agenda for change lumped us all together on a pay scale that did not recognise the completely different roles and expectations from our professional status.

    My feeling is that if this proposed incremental rise goes ahead then our unions should ensure that we agree as part of it not to develop for the time of the proposed freeze. This will ensure that the trusts have to fill vacancies with suitably qualified staff as the newly qualified will just purely be able to carry out the basics, will be unable to mentor and unable to carry out enhanced nursing skills (ie IV drug administration, phlebotomy and cannulation). Any preceptorship will obviously be kept to a minimum as this would be to develop as a professional. Wards would need to have adequate skill mix as a nurse qualified for 2 years under the proposal would not be able to carry out the role that a previous nurse qualified for the same period of time before the freeze could have done.

    To let this proposed incremental freeze go ahead without a fight is to completely devalue our professional role and development and would make a sham of the whole agenda for change remit! I will be extremely disappointed if our unions do not fight this especially as we will be expected to be at the forefront in developing services under the new White Paper!

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  • I can’t believe this is even being discussed, it’s an absolute disgrace. Are the bankers being asked to forego their pay increases and extra perks they get? What next, give up some of your holidays, work extra hours for free, and come in on days off to work?
    Think of the effect this is going to have on your pension, particularly if you are going to retire in the next two years and you have increments left.
    The unions are once again showing how spineless and weak willed they are, such a waste of time. Everyone needs to say ‘no’ to this, it should never go ahead and don’t think it offers protection at all, there’s other ways to get rid off staff.

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  • NO

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  • We knew it was coming :0(
    All I can say, if you are young and mobile enough to quit the UK then now is the time to go. The US, Oz and Canada will welcome you with open arms.
    I certainly never regretted leaving under the last tory government and often wonder why I bothered to come back.
    I agree with everything that the first poster has said.
    Pay peanuts- expect to get monkeys...
    Where is the incentive to show any loyalty to the NHS after this?

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  • If we don't stop this happening we are going to get monumentally shafted for ever. Also, it is in our contracts to get increments, and if the trusts freeze them they are breaching the terms of our contracts.
    Industrial action is just around the corner I feel; a work to rule on its own would very quickly cripple the NHS.

    As for protecting us from redundancies, a lot of posts have already disappeared because they haven't been filled as they become vacant, and this means the actual true number of jobs lost won't ever be accurate.

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  • I could live with this deal if it included everyone under the Agenda for Change contract. I don't agree with it, but I could accept it.

    However, what I can't accept is its divisiveness. I hate the way it splits the workforce between bands - a typical Tory ploy. Either we are all in this agreement together or not. Lets not pitch nurses and others against each other depending on what salary they are on.

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  • It seems to me that the argument of comparing pay and bonuses with bankers or anyone else outside the NHS and public services is flawed as they are in the private sector with a totally different economic and salarial framework is fundamentally flawed and will not lead to any useful conclusions. If nurses wish to continue making such comparisons then the whole pay structures of public and private organisations would need to be examined, compared and modified.

    As to the above article, why are only managers being asked to declare their support for this freeze and why are not all staff involved being consulted and asked to declare their support or otherwise? This is the only democratic way to deal with this issue. Furthermore, if managers are being asked to declare their support, I presume their salaries, job security and increments is also subject to the same treatment as nurses' and everybody elses' who is involved.

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  • I think that this proposal is fundamentally flawed. People working for the NHS are certainly not there because of the wonderful pay and working conditions. The yaerly increments are there to encourage nursing staff to develop and undertake further professional develpoment including mentoring junior staff and students. Many nurses already provide extra hous work for no renumeration.

    This proposal once again pushes nurses to their limit as we are unable to let our patients down and will carry on regardless. If all public sector employees were subject to the same pay freeze how many would not strike or work to rule!

    I don't believe that a pay freeze will protect jobs. Maybe somebody needs to look at how many management levels there are within the NHS, before looking to reduce the frontline workforce

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  • Most people will agree this course of action would be wrong. The question is how do we prevent this from happening?

    We need public support. Nurses and unions alone were powerless to prevent the pay freeze and will be powerless to stop the increment freeze without the general public.

    The vast majority of the public feel underpaid in their jobs too, unemployment is increasing and with VAT going up life is becoming more expensive. Facing this, why will they feel motivated to help preserve what to them may seem an unfair pay advantage for us?

    Who amongst us can honestly say they can work harder than they already do? Or provide even better care than they already do?

    We need a charming, charismatic campaign to further endear us to the public so they share our anger at effective pay cuts, and join us in saying "Leave our nurses' pay alone!"

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  • I'm a band 7 wic practitioner and work my backside off to keep things running. clinicial work, prescribing, secondary prescribing, supporting junior staff, management stuff etc etc. you try and tell me that it's fair and i'll scoff.
    There are posts of AFC 7 and above that are vague and probably unnecessary but it would be grossly unfair to victimize other AFC 7's in this way.
    I got my 7 in January 2010 after beinging top 6 ever since AFC was introduced so the 'only way was up'. The rise basically meant about an extra £1100 quid p/a for a whole lot more hassle and work but I wanted to do it to try and do a good job.Frankly, if the increments were frozen then I honsetly think that I would look towards getting a 6 somewhere and do without all of the additional work baggage.

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