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South West trusts set up regional 'pay cartel'


Sixteen trusts in the south west are seeking to move away from Agenda for Change and have formed a consortium to lead regional negotiation on pay, terms and conditions.

Nursing Times understands only South Devon Healthcare Trust, Somerset Community Health and Torbay and Southern Devon Health and Care Trust have decided not to join the group, described by unions as a “cartel”, while the region’s mental health trusts are keeping their position under review.

Taunton and Somerset Foundation Trust, Royal United Hospital Bath Trust and Gloucestershire Hospitals Foundation Trust have already approached staff.

Unison regional head of health Simon Newell told Nursing Times the unions had told management they were not prepared to discuss terms and conditions. He said issues on the table included unsocial hours payments, elements of sick pay and holiday pay, all of which come under the national pay agreement Agenda for Change.

More than 40 staff side representatives from the region’s NHS trusts, foundation trusts and seven social enterprises met in Bristol today to discuss their approach to the plans. In a press release following the meeting they described the consortium as a “pay cartel”.

Chair of the joint unions health officers forum for the south west Dorothy Fogg said: “This group of employers are planning to abandon nationally agreed pay and conditions in the South West region.

“This is not an issue about public sector pay; the knock on effects will have a devastating impact of the regional economy, especially the private sector, at a time when the economy needs strengthening not weakening.”

In his budget speech chancellor George Osborne announced plans to introduce local pay in the public sector to make salaries more reflective of cost of living.

The Department of Health has proposed retaining national pay agreement but expanding the areas that receive recieving a weighting to take account of more expensive living costs. This would be done by holding down pay in areas with a lower cost of living.

Foundation trusts have been able to opt out of Agenda for Change since their creation but only Southend Univeristy Hospital Foundation Trust has ever done so.

The initiative has been led by the trusts not the strategic health authority. A spokeswoman for NHS South of England said the authority was aware of the plans.

She said:  “We are aware that some employers are considering  working more collaboratively in order to ensure that their pay frameworks represent best value for money… the Strategic Health Authority continues to work with employers and trades unions in applying national terms and conditions where employers do not have the freedom to develop their own.”


Readers' comments (20)

  • Horrendous! We simply cannot allow it to happen. I am employed by one of the Trusts mentioned and nothing would delight our Chief Exec more than to pay Nurses even less, he has scant regard for us as it is.

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  • George Kuchanny

    There is quite an insidious problem here. Bristol for instance has a fairly high cost of living with accomodation of all sorts being rather expensive and ditto public transport. Drive down renumeration by using a local pay deal and what happens? Hopefully common sense will predicate that this slippery path is one that few Southwest Trusts (if any) will want to use as a blunt instrument to (to put it bluntly) 'shaft' their workers.

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  • tinkerbell

    and so it will continue ad infinitum, until nurses decide to stand up for themselves.

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  • This disgusts me: I've been a nurse for over 20 years and have seen management mushroom out of control. They care about shaving costs and I'm sorry to say that nurses are easy targets because we moan about everything but do nothing about anything. If every nurse in the south west handed in their notice on the same day we would be shafting the managers instead of them ploughing headlong through our needs without a care. Would we ever do this? Unlikely because whenever trust managers want to knock us down we not only let them: we hand them the stick todo it! I've had enough, and I'm leaving nursing altogether!

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  • tinkerbell

    singularly we are dispensible, united we are indespensible.

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  • I too am disgusted by this move. The mere words 'value for money' equals reducing pay and conditions and getting the cheapest salaries for nursing care. Does no-one feel that nurses are value for money already? The majority of the nursing workforce are not on huge salaries and work many, many hours unpaid. I would say that this is VERY good value for money. It is so demoralising for nursing. We have no respect, recognition or appreciation.

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  • Well, we reap what we sow. Solidarity instead of individualism is what is needed, but when it comes to the crunch, all of those living in areas where the pay will not be restructured will be quietly hoping that the sword o'Damoclese will just sweep their country cousins off their perch whilst leaving them safely esconsed. In reality, give it 6 months and we'll all be screwed. STAND UP AND FIGHT, YOU COWARDS!

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  • tinkerbell

    redpaddys12 | 29-May-2012 4:58 am

    here, here. Just fiddling while Rome burns.

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  • Cassandra,
    Fated with the gift of prophecy but doomed because no-one would believe her, daughter of noble Priam of Troy, time to tell these drongos to get off their arses and act! What next, come into work for free?!? Forgot, already do that, whilst some Baroness who gets a title for licking Dave's hoop steals from us all! Give her regional pay, preferably an hourly rate from Wormwood Scrubs sewing mailbags/ breaking rocks or whatever is construed as 'rehabilitation'. Remember, we are all in this together!

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  • Cassandra | 29-May-2012 5:56 am

    TINKERBELL why on earth have you changed your ID from Tinkerbell to THIS?

    “…in those groups of real and on-line communities of people where all aspects of psychic (or psi) abilities— and particularly, precognitive foresight— are accepted as a commonplace fact and not conjecture, the term "Cassandra Syndrome" has been coined to be a reflection of those who deliberately ignore warnings and predictions of any kind of impending trouble or doom because of disbelief, ignorance, skepticism, or just plain stubbornness when it comes to psychic abilities. When everything is all over, it is said that this person was a victim of the Cassandra syndrome.”

    “In Greek mythology, Cassandra (Greek ?ass??d?a, also ?as??d?a,[1] also known as Alexandra[2]) was the daughter of King Priam and Queen Hecuba of Troy. Her beauty caused Apollo to grant her the gift of prophecy. In an alternative version, she spent a night at Apollo's temple, at which time the temple snakes licked her ears clean so that she was able to hear the future (this is a recurring theme in Greek mythology, though sometimes it brings an ability to understand the language of animals rather than an ability to know the future).[3] When she did not return his love, Apollo placed a curse on her so that no one would ever believe her predictions. She is a figure both of the epic tradition and of tragedy, where her combination of deep understanding and powerlessness exemplify the ironic condition of humankind.”

    By courtesy of Wikipedia

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