A landmark deal to reduce the pay, terms and conditions of almost one million NHS staff has been agreed by health unions and NHS Employers.
A meeting of the NHS Staff Council, involving 15 NHS unions and employers, agreed to the reductions today, which will apply to the NHS in England.
The changes affect nurses, allied health staff, scientists and support staff.
It will see an end to automatic incremental pay rises with staff having to meet local performance requirements.
Sick pay will be paid at the basic salary level with no allowances or payments linked to working patterns such as out of hours shifts. This will not apply to staff off sick due to work-related injury or disease.
Under the deal new-starters at band 5 level will also no longer receive their second preceptorship payments.
For senior staff at the top of bands 8C, 8D and 9, pay progression will be earned annually as a bonus and could be removed if performance reduces.
Staff in band 8C and above could also be removed from Agenda for Change and offered a spot salary instead.
But employers have also committed to issuing new guidance on job re-profiling following concerns over increasing attempts to down band large numbers of staff.
The changes will come into effect on 31 March this year.
The biggest health unions the Royal College of Nursing and Unison backed the changes, although Unite opposed the plans.
Employers have argued the reductions are necessary to safeguard national pay bargaining.
Christina McAnea, head of health at Unison said: “This was a difficult decision taken in difficult times. Unison believes this is the best way of preserving national conditions which bring stability and fairness to staff and which benefit patients.
“The key now is to ensure the changes are implemented in a fair and transparent way across local hospital trusts.”
Unions have warned they will resist any attempts by individual trusts to introduce local pay.
Peter Carter, RCN chief executive and general secretary, said: “Considering the present political and economic climate, we have acted pragmatically for the benefit of NHS staff.
“This echoes what we were told by our members up and down the country; that the proposals were the best way to ensure all NHS staff receives equal and fair pay, no matter where they choose to live or work.
“However, we are clear that we expect all employers to stick to today’s agreement. The RCN will continue to strongly resist any moves to introduce changes locally,” he added.
Jon Skewes, director for policy, employment relations and communications at the Royal College of Midwives, said: “Midwives voted in overwhelming numbers in favour of this review of Agenda for Change.
“The RCM believes that this agreement reached today will help to secure UK wide bargaining in the NHS. It will also fend off the threat of local pay and conditions.”
Dean Royles, chief executive of the NHS Employers organisation, which negotiated the deal on behalf of the government, said: “The negotiations have been understandably challenging, coming as they do on the back of industrial action, changes to pension schemes and a significant reorganisation of the NHS.
“This deal will increase the health service’s confidence in the usefulness of the national pay arrangements, which continue to help the NHS support and manage an effective workforce.”
|The agreed changes to the Agenda for Change contract are:|
|Progression through all incremental pay points in all pay bands to be conditional on individuals demonstrating that they meet locally agreed performance requirements in line with a proposed new Annex addition to the handbook|
|For staff in bands 8C, 8D and 9, pay progression into the last two points in a band will become annually earned, and only retained where the appropriate local level of performance is reached in a given year|
|The removal of accelerated pay progression associated with preceptorship for staff joining pay band 5 as new entrants|
|The scope to put in place alternative, non Agenda for Change, pay arrangements for Band 8C and above|
|New guidance on the principles to be followed regarding workforce re-profiling, including the need to follow the processes set out in the NHS Job Evaluation Handbook and the application of local organisational change policies to protect staff in cases of staff redeployment into lower grade posts|
|Pay during sickness absence will be paid at basic salary level - not including any allowance or payments linked to working patterns or additional work commitments. This change will not apply to staff who are paid on spine points 1 - 8 of Agenda for Change, or to those whose absence is due to work-related injury or disease|