Regional pay would be ‘fool’s economy’, says RCN
By Richard Johnstone | 7 September 2012
The Royal College of Nurses has warned that moves to introduce regional pay in the NHS would ‘drain staff away’ from low pay areas and hit patient care.
The college has produced a briefing on plans for 20 NHS trusts in the Southwest of England to work together to set pay across the region. The government is also set to publish reports from pay review bodies this autumn on how to introduce ‘market-facing pay’
into the public sector.
RCN general secretary Dr Peter Carter today urged all NHS organisations ‘to stop labouring under the illusion that regional pay is a panacea to their financial troubles’.
All trusts have to cut costs under the efficiency programme, Quality, Innovation, Productivity and Prevention. This requires the NHS as a whole to find a total of £20bn in efficiency savings by 2014/15. In a bid to make savings, the 20 Southwest trusts have formed a pay, terms and conditions consortium, using flexibilities within the national Agenda for Change pay deal to move towards a regional system.
Carter said such pay changes would be ‘a fool’s economy’ as they would increase inequalities as well as being bureaucratic and expensive for local trusts to implement.
Breaking away from the national system would exacerbate the region’s existing problems, he added, such having the oldest population out of all the strategic health authorities in England.
The RCN will also write to all senior managers at the trusts involved in the consortium to raise its concerns. Unison members employed by the trusts staged rallies against the plans earlier this week.
Carter added: ‘The cartel in the southwest alleges that cutting terms and conditions of staff would save jobs. We say that is simply not true and what would actually happen is a skills drain as staff move away. Any trusts looking at such a draconian cost-cutting exercise should look again and think what this will mean to patient care.’
A spokesman for the Department of Health said that ‘there are no plans to cut NHS pay’.
He added: ‘Trade unions have not reached a national pay agreement with NHS employers over the past 18 months, prompting the South West Consortium to begin open and transparent discussions with staff and local trade unions. No decisions or even formal proposals have yet been made.’