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Pay increment freezes challenged


NHS chief executives must not freeze Agenda for Change increments while awarding themselves “indefensible” pay rises, Royal College of Nursing chief executive and general secretary Peter Carter has argued.

He told the Commons health committee yesterday that most NHS staff accepted the need for a two year pay freeze while finances were tight, but holding back increments would create “a significant problem”.

The move would be seen as unacceptable when information from trust annual reports, collated by the RCN, showed that chief executives received an average 7 per cent pay rise last year.

He said: “That [pay rise] showed very poor judgement and poor leadership in a time of such economic austerity.”

According to the data, chiefs in many trusts received no pay rise at all, and others limited themselves to the 2.7 per cent increase paid to staff on Agenda for Change. However, the fact the average was 7 per cent meant “a significant number” of chief executives, mainly at foundation trusts, had pay rises of 10 per cent or more, Mr Carter told the committee.

He added: “I think it’s indefensible for FTs to have awarded themselves double digit pay rises in such an economic climate.”

Institute for Employment Studies head of reward Duncan Brown told Nursing Times’ sister title HSJ the increases were probably due to new candidates being attracted into foundation trusts from the private sector.

Pay figures in annual reports normally included bonuses and, sometimes, pension entitlements, he said. However, he added: “The trade unions are right to raise this issue because it hardly appears helpful in engaging staff in a tough financial climate.”

An independent commission on fair pay in the public sector, headed by Will Hutton, is due to make interim recommendations later this month on how to ensure managers do not earn more than 20 times the lowest paid person in their organisation.

Mr Carter also told the committee he thought foundation trust surpluses should be the “first port of call” in identifying extra resources, rather than cutting frontline jobs.

He said he understood the desire to save for a rainy day, but said “the rainy day is here”.

British Medical Association chair Hamish Meldrum agreed clinicians should not face further pay restrictions.

He noted doctors were already having their pay frozen, while time set aside for supporting professional activities was being squeezed and excellence awards were being halved.

He said: “I think we have probably gone as far as we can expect them to go.”


Readers' comments (8)

  • When will nurses wake up and smell the coffee? The police service have enjoyed for many years unlimited overtime pay, whilst doctors/nurse work overtime for free. Tube workers strike to maintain staffing levels and a 35 hour week and enhanced annual leave with great rates of pay. Fire fighters are able to have a regular second job with the benefits of their first. I wonder if nursing was an all male profession would things be different?

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  • more pay for less work is everybody's ideal, need, right or however one wishes to justify it. if everybody keeps demanding more or wishes to work less how will the country ever get back on its feet again economically - reason states that if you give in one place you have to take away in another (in other words you give to some people and you have to take away from others) which will make things for some people, who may be seriously suffering already, far worse. the government have stated the facts and taken measures that they believe to be the best solution to solve current financial problems. why can't people, and that means everybody except the very poor in need, exercise some patience until such a time as the country can foot the bill again and finance these increases in salary and meet other demands.

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  • Nurses have been a bit 'green' since I started in 1972. Every time any monet saving issue comes along Nurses pay for it in one way or another.

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  • Anonymous | 10-Nov-2010 5:36 pm:
    ,I personally, would have more patience and flexibility on this issue if said politicians and all the top end earners/companies were being more honest and generous by paying what they actually owe in terms of tax.
    Just to reiterate, these cuts being foisted on us are a politically motivated choice. Even the BoE and IFS have spoken out regarding the fundamental unfairness and question the validity of the cuts being demanded. Read around a bit.

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  • Anon 5.36.

    'Why can't people exercise some patience?'

    I'll tell you why. Because we see the inequity, unfairness and hypocracy of others telling us to do this!

    Chief execs with double digit pay rises!

    david cameron apponiting all and sundry to his personal entourage!

    Bankers responsible for this mess recieving huge bonuses (after a tax payers bail out!!).

    The students rioting yesterday is just the start of the civil unrest this country will see over the next couple of years.

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  • P.Damien - Well said and I agree with every point you make. It's not about showing patience, how much longer do we have to wait for the caring and nursing profession to be fully recognised for what it does?
    Just because we are faced with the current economic crisis (a crisis caused by others) doesn't mean to say we should accept any worsening of our present terms and conditions and that we shouldn't continue to fight for improvments in the working lot of nurses.
    This Government will clearly take advantage of every aspect of good will shown by nurses and we can only blame ourselves when things worsen, not only for nurses but for the NHS in general.

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  • If my own unit is anything to go by, most nurses work on average an extra 5-10 hours a week without being paid for it already. Mainly caused by missing breaks, staying later to give a proper handover or trying to finish paperwork. Average this out across the whole of the NHS and see what would happen when the goodwill runs out. Medics are in the same boat. Many RNs are already stuck at the top of a particular band so will be getting nothing for the next few years with no hope of advancement. As far as I can see the next step will be to make all ward based staff nurses Band 5 only. Any Band 6 or above will be few and far between. Gradually the Band 5s will be replaced by HCAs on a band 3 saving millions on paper but costing millions due to mistakes- but no one will care, afterall its only feeding and changing old people isn't it? Any fool can do that. Now that uni fees are to increase who on earth will want to go into nursing in the first place? We still do not have a definitive answer on whats going to happen with bursaries in the long run ( lets face it, they will go the way of medics and physio training and vanish). Or more to the point, who will want to stay in the UK afterwards? If you are going to have to pay back tens of thousands of pounds you may as well live in a country that pays you a decent wage. We will be a laughing stock as we will be the only supposed 1st world country that has no qualified nurses in our charity hospitals. RNs will be forced into the private sector as whats left of the NHS will not be able to afford us. Well done ConDem/LibCon....

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  • Good job Peter and well said. We want more of this from you and a stronger message.

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