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Pay awards to be held at 1% for two years and AfC at risk


NHS employees can expect a prolonged wage squeeze and a possible end to national NHS terms and conditions, the government has signalled.

Chancellor George Osborne has announced in his autumn statement that public sector wage rises will be capped at an average of 1% for two years from April 2013.

Pay in the NHS for all those earning over £21,000 has already been frozen this year and is set to be frozen again in 2012-13, excluding incremental rises which average 2.5% or more in most trusts.

Mr Osborne also said he will ask the independent pay review bodies that advise ministers to “consider how public sector pay can be made more responsive to local labour markets”.

The outcome of the review is expected by July 2012 and could potentially lead to the national pay framework Agenda for Change being ripped up. However, until the PRB review’s terms of references are published this remains unclear.

The July 2010 white paper Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS said pay decisions “should be led by healthcare employers rather than imposed by the government”.

But it added: “It is likely that many providers will want to continue to use national contracts as a basis for their local terms and conditions.”

Sources to whom Nursing Times spoke immediately after the statement thought it was likely that the review could lead to elements of Agenda for Change being negotiated locally. This could include nationally set benefits such as annual leave entitlements, sick pay and overtime, which many trusts feel are too generous.

NHS Employers director Dean Royles said in his speech to the organisation’s annual conference earlier this month that Agenda for Change had been a “great achievement” but “circumstances had changed” and there was a need for local and national talks.

Royal College of Nursing head of employment relations Josie Irwin said: “We need some clarity in what [the government is] saying.

“We’ve always been keen to point out that when the NHS is experimenting with local bargaining it takes the main focus away from the health of its patients.”

RCN chief executive and general secretary Peter Carter described the 1% pay cap as a “deeply provocative and insensitive announcement”, which puts industrial relations in “serious jeopardy”.

He said: “Nurses and healthcare assistants now effectively face another two years of pay cuts at a time when inflation is rising. We have always accepted that money does need to be saved but this latest attack on pay is another hammer blow to the morale of nurses, who are already in the middle of a two year pay freeze, and who are witnessing the NHS going through unprecedented upheaval.

“It is for the independent and expert pay review body to recommend an appropriate and fair deal for frontline workers – not the government. The RCN will be considering the serious implications of these proposals with the utmost urgency.”

On the possibility of local labour markets, Dr Carter added: “We fully support the national Agenda for Change process, which ensures local managers are not tied up in negotiations and able to focus on patient care. The suggestion that public sector pay should be made more responsive to local labour markets is a distraction and not something we would support.”

Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey said the chancellor was “determined not just to raid public sector workers’ pensions, but their wages as well”.

“His much-vaunted capital projects will be paid for from the wages of  working people who are being squeezed and squeezed again, as they driven into desperate financial straits. The City has got off again scot-free,” he added.


Readers' comments (49)

  • Stop talking Mr.Carter and start fighting while we still have somehting to fight for !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    If you didn`t realise it, industrial relations are already in "serious jeopardy". Wake up man !!!!!!!!!!!!

    It`s obvious this Government is using the global financial situation as an excuse to dismantle public services.

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  • Terrible. Having endured a 5% wage cut as well as two more years of frozen wages. Followed by even more years of paltry wage increases. Do these people expect us to live on fresh air?

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  • Happy Christmas Eh ??????????

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  • i don't agree with the pay cuts but it is better then a extended pay freeze my fear as a student nurse is that due to pay cuts and cost cutting that when i qulifiy in 2013 that there will be no jobs going i think that more investment is needed in the frontline staff and trim the burrocry that comes with mangers and reduce their numbers for example there are to mangers for the cleaning staff at a community hospital where i do bank HCA shifts this is a rediclus waste of money.

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  • A bit of revenge by Mr Osborne I feel, as he is so upset that public service workers are daring to make their feelings clear by striking!

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  • Anon @4.12

    Hopefully you will have improved upon your grammar and spelling when the time comes for you to submit a job application. You will also realise that as you progress through your nursing career that mangers (sic) are necessary and indeed you may be a manager yourself one day!

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  • Mr Osborne obviously feels this derisory offer is generous. As inflation is still at about 5%, 1% over two years means 1/2% per annum in reality. Still means that we are going to be worse off overall. As there has been an announcment only today that were are in a further recession, which is unlikely to start to resolve (by the new forecast) until February next year, we are not going to find this helpful. Economists have advised that the Government should not be cutting back so hard. I presume that Mr Osborne and his Parliament are all deaf and blind and can't read the papers or see/listen to the news.

    What planet are the Politicians on? I don't remember any headlines showing any concessions to pay being accepted by the Politicians? I presume that they eat cake while we barely have any funds to eat bread. (£1 for a cheap loaf, Mr Osborne - no doubt you eat artisan loaves at £3.50 or more a throw?) Sadly, I have to listen to friends who work in banking and other financial sectors who will still be moaning about the fact that they only get £20K bonuses this Christmas. I will hear how 'hard up they are' when they are on six figure salaries anyway. What bonus? I don't even get a Christmas card from the Consultants I work with let alone a bonus!!! And I expect the lack of thanks even at Christmas, goes for the majority of the NHS workers.

    On another note, however, I don't agree with striking. We have got to prove our worth with evidence and then negotiate. I believe that the action tomorrow is going to be used as a weapon against us to retract any negotiations we have so far obtained.

    PS. I agree about the appalling grammar shown by some of the respondents in these comments. How can we be thought of as professional if we can't make literate sense or put an articulate argument across to Politicians, Managers and the public?

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  • 1% pay cap as a “deeply provocative and insensitive announcement”, I cant understand why we are being given 1% when welfare benefits are being increased to 5.3%. Some where in this Great country of ours we have gone wrong, is it a case of look after the benefit culture and penalise the hard working public.
    I totally agree with Anon @4.12, that spelling and grammar are important part of our Professional standing and at times am dismayed at the poor standard of student nurse's coming into the profession

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  • hey are they goverment having a pay cap? Are the pension contribution increasing? I really like to know.........

    I love my job............ not the condition i got to work under though..........

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  • Is Mike on the picket line?

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