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'Pay system overhaul will damage nursing'


We are midway through Wimbledon fortnight and the world’s greatest tennis tournament has already showcased some epic struggles for survival.

And nurses are going to have to learn from that tenacity and dig in if they want to repel the latest assault on their pay and conditions.

The details that everyone has been waiting for – or should I say dreading – are finally unveiled. On page 2 we reveal just what plans NHS Employers is proposing for Agenda for Change.

It’s a fact that trusts do need to find a way of operating in these leaner times – but universally NHS staff agree that local pay is not the way to go about it, and it will have consequences for the quality of care as staff are further demotivated and devalued in their work.

Will cash-strapped trusts in areas that are not as expensive to live in really have their bottom line improved by paying so little that they find it hard to attract the right staff? Doesn’t this make healthcare even more of a postcode lottery?

But after the reforms, pension changes, pay freezes and proposed NMC fee hike – do nurses actually have enough fight in them to resist this latest change to their pay and conditions?

I haven’t heard a single nurse agree that local pay will make life more comfortable or fairer – and yet, will they have the energy to articulate those views and make them heard above the cacophony of voices in government and management all speaking up in favour of this overhaul to the pay system?

Changes made now could be damaging for the profession, to those struggling to make ends meet and to those trusts in areas that find it challenging to fill posts.

The health unions’ greatest achievement was arguably negotiating Agenda for Change and ensuring that nurses (and other health professionals) receive equal pay for doing the same job.

Now it’s time to ensure that this achievement is not eroded.

There are too many nurses who are now questioning whether to stay in the profession. Some trusts may not be able to afford their current wage bill, but can they really afford to lose huge numbers of nursing staff who decide that this time enough really is enough?

  • Make the most of the positives of the profession, and ensure you celebrate the things worth celebrating in nursing. The Nursing Times Awards are open for entries until 6 July. See for details of how you can enter – for free – and win £1,000 if you are successful. Ensure your work is recognised by entering today.



Readers' comments (11)

  • Both my Husband and I work for the NHS in the south west where 16 trusts including ours have formed a cartel to introduce local pay. It is outrageous, they have done this without any consultation of staff. Each chief exec has taken £10,000 of trust money to put into the cartel, robbing patients of money which should be spent on them. This must be prevented from happening and Nurses must finally agree to stand up for themselves and vote for strike action if and when our union gives us the opportunity. The last ballot was an embarrassment to the profession and a loud and clear signal to Government of our weakness.

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  • Here we go again!
    How much has it cost for the Afc pay restructure? which in Scotland was only started in 2004!No wonder the NHS is in a poor financial state.
    It's a joke to say the Afc would realign all staff and there would be no inequality of pay for staff doing the same job.
    Wake up and smell the coffee! There are still hundreds if not thousands of NHS staff still going through an appeal system and trying to take out grievances which are deliberately being blocked as there is no more money to upgrade them.
    Transparency is needed in the NHS in line with the banks!

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  • I will leave Nursing if they cut my pay. I am already looking. Had enough.

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  • why is this being compared to the luxury of wimbledon? tennis is a competitive sport and people are struggling to win prize money to add to their millions. it is not an existential struggle such as that suffered by nurses who are at risks of losing their jobs and their livelihoods.

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  • "I haven’t heard a single nurse agree that local pay will make life more comfortable or fairer". Here you go then. I'm a nurse. Lack of fairness is not an argument that stands up. Costs of living are hugely variable across the nation(s). Pay is the same. Linking pay to costs of living, as happens already in London, is inherently fair.

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  • so you don't believe in fairness Mikey?

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  • Dear Anonymous,
    1. Congrats, you appear to post on this site far more often than anyone else (although your opinions appear to change a lot, if I'm honest)
    2. I believe in fairness. I don't believe the current system is particularly fair. London already has a different pay arrangement, which is fair, apparently. Therefore, why not extend this principle to other areas?

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  • Hi I usually post as anonymous out of choice.

    We should be supporting each other not backstabbing.

    Nurses unite and tear apart.

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  • oops missed a word it should read not tear apart

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  • Mikey Rich | 9-Jul-2012 9:46 am

    it is a curious comment because the option is offered below and many choose it for various reasons of their own which do not need to be challenged.

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