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No pay rise unless unions agree to new contract talks, says DH


Any pay rise for NHS staff should be deferred until unions have agreed to discuss how the Agenda for Change contract can be further watered down to make it more affordable for cash-strapped trusts, the Department of Health has said.

It has called on the NHS pay review body, which makes recommendations annually on basic pay, to tie any wage increase to further changes to the national Agenda for Change contract, and also remuneration for doctors and dentists.

The move would mean a pay freeze during the 2014-15 financial year, which starts next April, with no guarantee of a wage rise in 2015-16.

It is little more than six months since a deal was struck by employers and unions to make some changes to Agenda for Change. However, many trusts have claimed it did not go far enough.

The DH has acted on these claims, saying unions and employers need to get back round the negotiating table and agree more changes to the contract. A basic pay increase should “be made dependent” on progress in these talks, it said.

The department said both sides would be “invited to report on progress in their evidence [to the review body] next year, effectively deferring any award” until April 2015.

In its submission to the pay review body, the DH said: “At the very simple level, employers can either pay fewer staff more, or more staff less. Increasing demand means employers need staff to improve performance and productivity.

“Careful and prudent management of the NHS pay bill is critical if we are to maintain the right number of front-line staff with the right skills,” it added. “We believe more affordable employment contracts can help deliver better care and improve job security.”

But Christina McAnea, head of health at Unison and joint chair of the NHS Staff Council, said: “What they [the DH] have done is inflammatory. They must have known how unions would react.”

As reported by Nursing Times last week, unions have told the review body that staff deserve at least a 1% pay rise, while NHS Employers has argued for a pay freeze.

Ms McAnea said: “We are not going to negotiate while a gun is held to our head for a paltry 1% pay rise – our members will not react well to that.”

She said unions had previously shown they were willing to discuss changes to terms and conditions, but the government and employers were now “trying to scare us back around the negotiating table”.

Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “It is completely unfair to say a pay increase of just 1%, following years of real-terms pay cuts, will prevent employers from recruiting more nurses and put patient safety at risk.

“To demand further changes to the national pay framework before a pay increase can even be considered is unhelpful, particularly when changes linking performance and pay have only recently been agreed and employers have barely started to implement them.”

He added: “Another year of pay freezes for frontline staff sends the message that their contribution is not valued while putting staff under even more pressure, which is bad for patient care.”

The average nurse has seen earnings increase 6.7% since 2009 but inflation has risen by at least 13% over the same period, resulting a real-terms pay cut.

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Readers' comments (26)

  • Nurses. Don't stand for this. These people are thugs and they will never stop taking from you unless you take action.

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  • I am currently a band 6 sister in itu, we have band 6 staff nurses who are getting the same wages as me but do not have the same responsibility as myself, I have no problem with them having band 6 as I feel it is right in a highly specialized area to recognise skills etc, but is it is not fair to expect me to preform at a higher level at the same band, is there anyone else out there in the same position?
    We have been refused upgrading by a panel, but now our junior band 5s are demanding a6 as they say they do the same job!

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  • Hmm no payrise likely until 2015 at the earliest. Anyone got any idea what might be happening in 2015 where the Government might just start trumpeting "We've just given all hardworking NHS staff an inflation busting payrise"........?

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  • Anonymous | 4-Oct-2013 12:06 pm

    This is very common amongst all grades. Basically there are a huge amount of staff in every band working to at least the level and responsibility of a band higher. It is the result of job regrading and down banding which we have all tolerated, as we will tolerate this next attack on our terms and conditions.

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  • Time for industrial action...

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  • Well, shafted every way then......

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  • michael stone

    I'm not being bothered to research this one - however, we read above:

    'In its submission to the pay review body, the DH said'

    That rather implies, that the pay review body is NOT directly controlled by the DH (probably the goverment arranged that) - this is just the DH telling 'something not the DH' what to do. It is amazing, how often 'telling something not us, what to do', crops up.

    Whether the DH can 'arm twist' here, is a more subtle question, of course.

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  • Soon we will all be on zero hour contracts or on self employed then we'd have to pay our own NI and tax and no holiday pay. Or maybe they might make those on job seekers do the work instead then they would be getting something for nothing.

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  • What I think about this is not printable, and would get me banned from this website. Every year they screw us down, but this is just awful. Industrial action is the only way forward; not letting them whittle away more every year until we have nothing left.

    Absolute arse----s

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  • I think you could call this blackmail!

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