UNISON demo outside Poole Hospital

Several hundred delegates from the UNISON conference being held at the BIC in Bournemouth attended a lunchtime flash demo, on June 21st, outside Poole General Hospital in protest against the South West Pay NHS Cartel.

Sixteen NHS trusts in the South West have banded together in a bid to make “radical” changes to staff pay, terms and conditions outside of the national Agenda for Change agreement. Each trust paid £10,000 to join this cartel.

The consortium of trusts is considering a suite of proposals to reduce workforce costs by 8 per cent across the region.

A leaked document drawn up by this consortium reveals that, if a deal cannot be reached, trusts may consider dismissing staff and rehiring them on the new terms in order to force through the changes.

Plans include changes to working hours, annual leave entitlements and pay. The consortium also intends to look at “attractive, performance-driven approaches” to pay and conditions.

Poole NHS trust is a “key player” in setting up the cartel as its chief executive, Chris Bown, is chair of its steering group.

Unison say the plans will “damage patient care and drive down pay”, and threatens the future of on-going national negotiations between unions and government representatives on changes to Agenda for Change.

Unison South West state: “We believe the cartel’s approach is simply a cost cutting exercise which will affect the quality of services.”

“The consequences for the region will be disastrous; skilled health workers will be driven out of the region, taking money out of the local economy, deepening the healthcare postcode lottery.”

Unison head of health Christina McAnea, said: “The setting up of this pay cartel is a crude attempt to drive down wages, which in turn will damage the quality of patient care in all 16 trusts.

“The cartel will lead to shortages of key staff who will vote with their feet and move to hospitals where the pay is better and patients will be the ones who suffer.”

She added: “Cutting wages of hospital workers will also have a knock-on effect on already depressed economies in the South West. Health workers are already suffering from a two year pay freeze and this further assault on their pay and conditions will hit morale as well as their spending power.”

“We do not want rogue employers threatening to undermine the stability of national pay bargaining and Agenda for Change. It is not too late for those 16 trusts to do the right thing by their patients and staff and drop this damaging and divisive plan.”

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Sources: UNISONHealth Sources Journal Nursing TimesRCN

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