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RCN opposes regional pay changes


Introducing regional pay and conditions in the NHS would lead to lower standards of patient care, according to The Royal College of Nursing.

Scrapping the national agreement on terms and conditions in a bid to save money and jobs is the “wrong solution” to the challenges trusts are facing, the union said.

The RCN issued the warning after 20 trusts in south west England joined a consortium that is considering a regional approach to cut costs.

In a briefing published today, the College said the move would exacerbate inequalities and harm patient care, be bureaucratic and expensive to implement and result in a skills drain with staff moving away from lower paid areas.

The RCN also argued the approach lacked economies of scale which would take money away from patient care.

Dr Peter Carter, RCN general secretary, said: “The cartel in the south west alleges that cutting terms and conditions of staff would save jobs.

“We say that is simply not true and what would actually happen is a skills drain as staff move away.

“Any trusts looking at such a draconian cost-cutting exercise should look again and think what this will mean to patient care.”

He added: “NHS organisations need to stop labouring under the illusion that regional pay is a panacea to their financial troubles.

“It is not. This would be a fool’s economy. It is the wrong solution to the challenges these trusts are facing.”

The RCN said it would be writing to senior managers at the trusts involved in the The South West Pay Terms and Conditions Consortium to raise its concerns.

The group was set up in June and recently published two discussion papers papers outlining financial pressures on the service and potential ways of saving money.

The consortium said a more “fit for purpose” system of pay and conditions, which includes longer working hours and cuts to annual leave, sick pay and on-call payments, could save more than 6,000 jobs.

A spokesman for the Department of Health said: “There are no plans to cut NHS pay. Pay agreements need to be fit for purpose.”

He added: “Trade unions have not reached a national pay agreement with NHS employers over the past 18 months, prompting the South West Consortium to begin open and transparent discussions with staff and local trade unions.

“No decisions or even formal proposals have yet been made.”


Readers' comments (5)

  • King Vulture

    This was all over Radio 4 this morning, so at least the RCN's statement is getting some media attention - I think it was also a minor piece in today's Guardian.

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  • work for one of the Trusts involved. Staff suggestions to reduce waste and generate income are consistently ignored. Large amounts of money are seen to be wasted on weekend initiative clinics when there are other solutions; locum and agency nurse use is spiralling because regular posts have been removed. Admin staff are constantly shuffled to the department with the longest typing queue. Peremptory bed closures are now being reversed as they are acknowledged to have been based on innaccurate figures. And cutting staff T&C's is seen as the FIRST option? I am mobile and along with many others, actively looking elsewhere. Skilled and motivated staff will do this. Those with family ties will remain, unhappily, as will the less motivated and less qualified staff. There is already a difficulty recruiting to specialist services in the area, with key posts vacant, neccessitating expensive locums. The costs resulting from this escapade, both monetary and in standards of care and staff engagement, will far outweigh the savings made by unilaterally varying peoples' contracts.

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  • michael stone

    Anonymous | 8-Sep-2012 11:16 am

    A sad tale ! But not a shock, unfortunately.

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  • Brendan Barber was on 5 Live this morning demonstrating an inherent contradiction in the anti-regional pay argument. When asked about London weighting he replied that it reflected the specific conditions that apply to London. Those conditions wouldn't be the higher cost of living in London, would they, Brendan?

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  • MeThinks

    Mikey Rich | 10-Sep-2012 7:51 am

    Yes, they would - but there are inherent contradictions almost everywhere.

    The fundamental to this one, unstated but true, is do you support driving down the pay of those people nearer the bottom of the pay table (and further extending the pay disparity between the poorly-paid and the hugely-well paid) or do you want to push upwards, in relative terms, the pay of lower-paid workers ?

    Personally, I think that pay disparity is already too large.

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