A hospital trust Bedfordshire has proposed breaching the Agenda for Change pay and conditions agreement in order to save money, while others are seeking to cut fringe benefits such as compassionate leave.
Luton and Dunstable Hospital Foundation Trust is looking at measures such as reducing workers’ annual leave and sick pay entitlement to meet a savings target of £16m.
Documents, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by Nursing Times’ sister title Health Service Journal, show these include £1.5m potential savings from freezing pay increments and £1m from decreasing annual leave by two-five days. Around £400,000 could also be saved from treating a bank holiday as a working day and a further £600,000 from reducing sickness entitlement.
A spokeswoman for the trust said: “We’re operating in-line with Agenda for Change at the moment.”Regional Unison organiser Lorraine Kalaher said the proposals had been raised informally with the union, but added: “We have a national agreement and we won’t be looking at any ways to change that.”
Foundation trusts are allowed to “opt out” of Agenda for Change but only one has so far done so – Southend University Hospital Foundation Trust in 2006.
A national proposal from NHS Employers to freeze increments in return for a promise of compulsory redundancies was recently rejected by unions (news, page 5, 25 January).
Nursing Times has also learnt that trusts are beginning to cut fringe benefits, including family friendly policies, in an attempt to make savings.
Paid carer leave was removed at Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust in January and at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Foundation Trust in September.
Nurses at the former Mayday Trust in south London had pay protection cut from five years to two years in December in order to equalise terms with staff at Croydon Community Health Services, which had offered no protection before the two merged in August.
The Royal College of Nursing’s head of policy Howard Catton said there was a “chasm” between the rhetoric of making savings through service redesign and the “reality” of changes to pay and conditions. He said: “It’s a deeply worrying development.”
A seat on the board is now tweeting at @Aseatontheboard, follow for all the latest campaign news! Ensure nurses have a seat on consortia boards!