Union hits back at Lansley’s support of regional pay, warning the patience of NHS staff is running thin

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UNISON has hit back at Health Minister Andrew Lansley’s backing of regional pay in the NHS, calling it an unworkable, divisive bureaucratic nightmare.

The union is warning the patience of health workers is running out, with staff already hit by the pay freeze, job and budget cuts, a massive re-organisation caused by the hugely unpopular Health and Social Care Act and now the threat of damaging local pay cuts.

The current pay system, Agenda for Change, took many years to develop and implement and is recognised by all as the tool to deliver fair pay consistent with employment law and equality proofed. It was brought in partly to solve the many problems associated with diverse and local pay. And yet here we are, before the system has bedded in properly, with another attempt to go local.

UNISON head of health Christina McAnea said: “The Department of Health’s evidence on regional pay is built on sand. For a government that says it wants to cut paperwork, introducing regional pay would be a massively expensive, bureaucratic nightmare, designed to cause huge disruption and conflict.

“Regional pay would cause skills shortages in so called low cost areas with nurses, midwives and specialised staff being hard to recruit and retain, hitting the care of patients.

“The government wants to introduce a market ethos into the NHS but most private companies abandoned regional pay scales years ago as divisive and unworkable.

“The NHS is already struggling to find billions in so called efficiency savings and with no extra money promised to fund higher cost areas, the money would have to come from existing budgets.”

There is no national ‘market’ for health staff outside of the NHS and to pretend that staff like occupational therapists, cancer nurses, paramedics and operating department practitioners can be recruited in the same way as any other jobholder is simply misguided.


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