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Trusts seek discussion on changes to out of hours pay arrangements


Health service employers have insisted they do not want to rip up the Agenda for Change contract, but instead want to “reform and update” it.

It is only two years since a deal was agreed to make changes to the contract, including arrangements for sick pay, preceptorship payments and pay progression for senior nurses.

But since then ministers and managers have repeatedly stated a desire to water down further parts of Agenda for Change.

As part of the latest 1% pay deal with the government, unions agreed earlier this month to fresh talks on possible changes to terms and conditions in the contract.



Danny Mortimer, chief executive of the NHS Employers organisation, noted that changes to unsocial hours payments, worth £1.8bn, “was one part of the conversation”.

“Unsocial hours are a priority area for us, but that’s not the only conversation we want to have”

Danny Mortimer

But he claimed he was not seeking a total renegotiation of the deal. “We are agreeing a timetable with unions for talks and we see a commitment on their part to have those discussions,” he said in an interview with Nursing Times’ sister title Health Service Journal.

“We have always wanted a rounded conversation about the contract,” he said. “Unsocial hours are a priority area for us, but that’s not the only conversation we want to have.

“This is about taking a pay system that is 12-15 years old and updating it and reforming it. I don’t think that is an unreasonable conversation for us or the unions to want to have,” he added.

Mr Mortimer rejected the suggestion employers had failed to properly implement past deals, arguing it was often due to a failure to achieve agreement locally between trusts and trade unions.

On pay increments for Agenda for Change staff, one of the main targets of the government’s dispute with unions, Mr Mortimer hinted that he was confident there was room for discussion on the issue.

“The idea that we aren’t able to have a mature conversation about how increments can be changed or made part of the pay deal isn’t consistent with what’s happened over the years,” he said.

Mr Mortimer also used the interview to highlight concerns over what he called “the perception of fairness” in widening differences between doctors and the more than one million NHS staff covered by Agenda for Change.

As part of the new pay deal, it was agreed to cap the maximum amount of salary used to calculate redundancy at £80,000 with a minimum floor of £23,000 to help the lower paid.

As a result, employers can also no longer make “top-up” payments for those made redundant over the age of 50 and who choose to retire early.

However, the British Medical Association said the cap does not apply to its members, as doctors were not covered by Agenda for Change.

Mr Mortimer said: “Employers aren’t happy that doctors are in a different place in terms of cost of living and redundancy than other staff. The largest group of highest paid staff have the most generous redundancy entitlements.”

He also noted that doctors were continuing to receive pay rises and increment progression, while Agenda for Change unions had agreed to concessions.

Mr Mortimer, who recently joined NHS Employers from Nottingham University Hospitals Trust, said: “It’s about some equality of approach across the workforce.”


Readers' comments (35)

  • HCSW

    So, instead of contracted x1.33, jobs will go to the agencies for more than x2.0

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  • reform means the same as change, in other words it will mean we get paid less for working longer hours, get les holidays, less pension and no sick

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  • It begins again... I do not see there being a set of management side proposals which do anything other than reduce the net earnings of staff who have to work these hours. However, there are no signs that a parallel commitment is likely to be made to ensure childcare is available across 7 days and unsocial hours without increased cost to NHS staff. How unattractive do they want to make healthcare work?

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  • Nursing staff are the backbone of the NHS, they are the glue that is keeping it from crumbling altogether. So what is the message to those young people who choose to take on this very difficult profession, while their peers may be undertaking similar length and level training, yet earning much more for a good deal less responsibility? Well it appears to be - lets pay them less, still make them work bank holidays, evenings and nights, but don't pay them anymore for doing so -after all who wants a social life? Yes that will definitely work!!!!

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  • Changes to unsocial hours pay will see staff refusing to work extra shift and a marked increase in the need for agency work to do these shift where I am sure the agencies will still charge extra for them. This is short sighted penny pinching antics from fat cat bosses and MPs.

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  • 2742 days till I get my state pension...if they drop unsocial hours pay. I'm off straight away.I don't care how poor I'll be. I'm not doing nights and weekends for nothing extra. I'm sick and tired of being treated badly reading pay & working conditions. I'll find a job with a lot less stress than nursing

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  • Another way for the government to brow beat us to the extent that we will accept privatisation just so we can earn a decent living wage.

    I've already seen many of my colleagues joining agencies and doing shifts part time at other hospitals rather than cover overtime in our own hospital. And when you can earn nearly double for the same hours who can blame them.

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  • The lunatics really have taken over the asylum. OK so if they cut our unsocial hours payments we won't work extra hours for free, we won't work through our breaks etc etc. They can't have it both ways. And how the heck do they think they are going to attract anyone into nursing if they do cut the unsocial hours payments?!

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  • 20 more pay days before I retire, not that l'm counting!!!!!!!

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  • When Labour introduced its Agenda for Change grading and pay system it was always the intention to remove enhanced payments for staff - that's why there was an uplift in everyone's basic pay.

    As someone who voted to reject AfC and to retain the Whitley Council I was in the minority- as most of my colleagues were too focused on what they were going to spend their extra money and backdated pay on to see AfC what it really is - but we are where we are.

    Like most people reading this, the amount of Sh!t and stress that one has to put up with seems to increase as each day passes and if enhancements do go, then so do I as I'm not prepared to work without proper recompense - and that's what enhanced payments are: compensation for wrecking your body and social life brought about by working nights/weekends.

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