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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)

  • Anonymous | 24-Mar-2015 6:18 pm

    are you saying because you never had it others should be denied it as well?

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  • Laha78

    Have these idiots who make all our decisions even done a shift on the wards!!!!
    The only reason I work nightshift is for the extra money and the way it makes me feel physically and mentally, we all bloody deserve it!!

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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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  • That mutton chops, pen pushing bureaucrat has a half smirk on his face because, looking beyond the bitching and moaning, we'll inevitably take this as we always do. Of course, it will come with a mild concession (pre planned), which will be extolled by unions as a win.
    By the time the subsequent quarter's agency bills come in it individual Trusts, this psychopath will be long gone into another post, having left with a big fat bonus, while individual the others will be left scratching their heads.

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  • Sorry for errors. #to, not #it and #while the others, not #while individual.

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  • Is this all part of the governments master plan ? Cameron has said that he wants the NHS to be a 365 days a year 24/7 organisation virtually across the board. To do that with unsocial hours payments would cost billions so the only way to do it is get rid of them.

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  • Anon 25/03/15 10:07pm

    Rather than just sacking people, they're looking at ways of reducing the wage bill and retaining staff. Personally, I'd just sack people and I'd start with Modern Matrons and work up.

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  • 'Modern Matrons' for crying out loud!
    why not add 'modern nurses', 'modern doctors', 'modern managers' 'modern patients' and 'modern all the rest' and get rid of all the 'old-fashioned' thinkers as above! :-) maybe then the NHS would be 'modern' and function in a 'modern' way!

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  • Anonymous | 26-Mar-2015 7:20 am

    The Modern Matron was the Labour interpretation of the 'throwing a 'specialist nurse' at a problem in order to be seen to be addressing that problem' ethos. They're an added layer of management that im sure could be replaced by employing decent ward/department Sisters. We managed quite well before their inception.

    If the choice is bands 1-5 retaining their enhancements or Modern Matrons then I know what I'd choose.

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  • Anonymous | 26-Mar-2015 7:20 am ...Couldn't agree more..keep the real workers on unsocial hours pay and get rid of the rest of them

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