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Unions fight to keep national pay deal


A move to local pay for NHS staff would lead to damaging competition between trusts for workers, entrench low pay in certain areas and further erode morale, health unions warned last week.

They made the claims in evidence submitted to the NHS Pay Review Body, which has been asked by the chancellor, George Osborne, to look at the feasibility of local pay bargaining.

Calling for the retention of the national pay scales, the unions said the current system prevented staff and skills shortages, and ensured staff were paid and developed in a “transparent, equitable and efficient manner”.

The submission – made jointly by Unison, Unite and the royal colleges of nursing and midwives – stated that abandoning national pay risked “lasting damage to staff morale and motivation, and to recruitment and retention”.

RCN chief executive and general secretary Peter Carter said: “A move which could see two nurses doing the same job but with a wide disparity in their pay could seriously short change patients in those areas which do not pay appropriately.”

Unison head of health Christina McAnea described local pay bargaining as a “shortsighted and potentially disastrous policy”, while Unite’s head of health, Rachael Maskell, said it would require a “new expensive layer of bureaucracy”.

But NHS Employers, which represents NHS organisations, said in its evidence to the review that greater flexibility to vary pay could lead to more efficient use of the “unaffordable” NHS pay bill.

It noted there was “limited appetite” for full local pay bargaining by individual trusts, because of the likelihood of increased administration costs. Instead it suggested regional pay bands, such as “London weighting”, could be extended to different areas.

Dean Royles, director of the NHS Employers organisation, said: “Over half of all NHS spending is on pay, so reducing cost and ensuring greater productivity is a priority if the NHS is to achieve its target of £20bn in efficiency savings.”

  • The review body last week recommended NHS staff earning £21,000 or less – and therefore not affected by the two-year pay freeze – should receive a pay rise of £250 from April.

Readers' comments (35)

  • The government has won every battle to crush our profession and impose impossible working conditions and crap pensions. Every reason to think that they will win this one. Nurses won't fight this.

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  • yet another argument in the spoke of the wheel! it looks as though this is going to be one of many of government in charge who don't know what they are talking about against the hc professions who do and an extremely slippery slope.

    strange, for what it is worth, on my MSc healthcare management course we learned a good manager doesn't know everthing s/he cannot possibly as they are not the specialists in each area but they have to know how to take advice from the experts in those areas or in each department and coordinate services to get the best possible quality and efficiency out of them (and i suppose i have to mention cost-effectiveness as well!). That, according to our lecturer on the subject, is skilful management and I think this can be seen very clearly in the way the government are mishandling their reforms and they style of management.

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  • Regional pay bands does indeed make a lot of sense. Whilst you don't want competition between two adjacent hospitals, paying everyone across the country a wage that is applicable for the most expensive areas, such as london, makes little sense. This is part of the reason why in some areas the state is the majority employer. If you have pay that is applicable for the local area it will benefit the local economy more.

    The sensible suggestion of keeping agenda for change but then having a local "adjustment" makes complete sense, and these can be negociated on a regional basis by the unions.

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  • Anonymous 17.Mar-2012 10:36am

    Do you live in London?
    I think it is the beginning of the end for nursing as a career, the government are doing their best to kill it. From pensions, nurse bashing, NHS reforms and now this our pay has been frozen too long already whilst cost of living has continued to rocket. Don't forget a lot of the private sector have bonus payments yes they are taxable but nurses have no perks like that at all. The end is nigh!

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  • tinkerbell

    who'd have thought that in this short time this unelected government of multi millionaire tory spivs could cause such havoc to OUR NHS, and the healthcare work force and our society.

    It is starting to sound like War of the Worlds.All we need now is the voice over from Richard Burton.

    I wouldn't be surprised is very soon they also put up our NMC registration fees to totally boot us out of the workforce altogether. No doubt there ultimate aim is to get rid of the nursing as a profession and employ much cheaper labour in the form of under paid HCW's.

    We have to be prepared to think like the enemy to know what is coming next, although i draw the line at thinking like a psychopath and cannot get my head around what a psychopath might do next apart from knowing they have no feelings of guilt and remorse. They realy don't care. When my nursing colleagues at work now ask me 'how can they do this' i now answer 'if you remember that they just don't care then you have your answer'. How sad that i have to wipe all that naivety away from them.

    Prepare yourselves for the biggest struggle of our nursing careers, not to put too fine a point on it.

    No wonder Nye Bevin said 'I hate them with a passion'. Bless him.

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  • Do not delude yourself for one tiny minute that there is anything "sensible" in these plans. It will now be a race to the bottom for nursing. This is outrageous, deeply dangerous and nurses must fight it.

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  • tinkerbell

    Anonymous | 17-Mar-2012 12:10 pm

    As i have been criticised on another article on NT by a poster as being 'elite' and interrupting the thread on 'nurse research', athough under different circumstances i might take that as a compliment, i am by no means elite. I am a nurse working in the NHS and never before have we been so up against the ropes. I am just trying to get the message out at this moment in time, that we only have until 19 March to make any kind of stand as nurses. As i don not want to interrupt yet again the artice on nurse research and obviousy i over stepped the line i am writing my response here. Come on research nurse GET REAL just for this short space of time. Realise that everything at the moment that is happening is nursing regarding an academic level is purely academic as to what is happening right now in this moment of ground breaking history to the nursing/heathcare profession, OUR NHS, our society. We need to get our perception of this dangerous threat into focus first and foremost and unite on this above everything else.

    We will not have the luxury of any kind of research whilst we are under this onslaught of destruction.

    After19 March we are done for.Then we can discuss almost nothing at all because registered nurses will become extinct.

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  • Re regional pay
    I live and work in what may be described as a less well off area of the country. My food and utilities cost the same as the rest of the country, and fuel is often dearer due to supply and demand. Living in a rural area usually means higher fuel costs too. Does the chancellor have any idea...........

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  • tinkerbell

    Anonymous | 17-Mar-2012 1:31 pm

    No totally clueless, does he care, NO.

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  • I'll bet the MP's won't get their pay set in line with the area they represent!!

    Anonymous 17th march 10.36am.

    You obviously work for George Osborne, or you wouldn't be suggesting that the plans to set pay locally is an ok thing to do.

    Nursing as a career is already going down the pan, and I can't understand why anyone would bother to train anymore. It is totally outrageous that the government think that they can do this, and they obviously don't give a s--- about us hard working nurses or about our poor patients who will suffer badly as a result.

    I think this subject will make us angrier than even the pensions debacle has, and we should all BLOODY well strike without any hesitation. In the area I live in, wages are poor, yet we have the highest water rates in the country. The £50 that the government said we could towards the water bill is derisory, and is already swallowed up in the rise that OFWAT said the company could implement for the next year.

    I'm absolutely steamingly angry about this move to set pay locally, and I hope that other people are angry enough to take firm action; the only action that would be effective is an all out strike. Unfortunately I think that nurses will take it lying down as usual, and then wonder what happened when their pay is cut drastically. I don't think that what he is trying is even legal as we have contracts and they set out our pay and conditions.

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