Unions have agreed draft proposals to reduce terms and conditions for NHS staff at a meeting with NHS Employers today, Nursing Times can reveal.
The NHS Staff Council executive met today where the proposals by NHS Employers were debated by all health unions.
All unions have agreed to take the proposals back to their executive committees for consultation. But one senior insider at the negotiations has revealed some unions were “uncomfortable and not at all happy” with the proposals.
The move represents a major step forward in the negotiations on Agenda for Change and means a final deal could be significantly closer.
The key proposals include the end of automatic incremental pay rises for Agenda for Change staff. Workers will need to meet required performance standards set by the trusts in consultation with the staff side, informed by a national guidance. This guidance will be published along with the proposals.
Enhanced out-of-hours sick pay will also be lost except by those with work related injuries or diseases. Nursing Times can reveal work is continuing to investigate the possible inclusion of staff on maternity leave.
Band 5 staff will no longer receive their preceptorship payments, which are currently meant to see them receive two pay rises in their first year.
Employers have also successfully included plans to potentially remove staff at the most senior pay bands in bands 8c,8d and 9. Band 8b was excluded from the change after what one source said was a “pitched battle” between employers and unions.
The proposals, if adopted, would mean a significant deterioration in terms and conditions for NHS staff and some unions have already threatened industrial action.
The changes would only apply to NHS staff in England and would be an appendix added to the original Agenda for Change deal.
Unions have stressed NHS trusts will need to commit to the national deal rather than pursue a local solution if the proposed changes are to go ahead.
A senior union source, present at today’s Staff Council Executive, told Nursing Times: “The document will now go out to each union’s executive or their equivalent who will determine what each union will do.
“There was differences of opinions between some of the unions.
“A deal has not been done but we are further along in the process and we are now going out to consultation.”
Unison head of health and staff-side chair Christina McAnea said: “All of the Staff Council unions have agreed to take the proposals back to their executives.
“The unions’ main objective is to defend and maintain a national terms and conditions agreement which can deliver for patients, staff and employers.
“We hope this will enable those trusts, including those in the South West, to commit to the national Agenda for Change agreement,” she added.
Gill Bellord, director of employment relations and reward at the NHS Employers organisation, said: “Following publication of our proposals on 25 June we have continued to involve employer representatives, including employers in the South West, on progress.
“We all know discussion about terms and conditions can be challenging, yet significant progress has been made,” she said.
“All parties recognise the value of partnership working and will continue to work together to ensure that national terms and conditions remain sustainable for the future, fit for purpose and fair to staff.
“We now look forward to a positive outcome to the trade union consultation,” Ms Bellord added.