Pay cuts proposal to reduce South West hospitals' wages bill (From The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald)
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Pay cuts proposal to reduce South West hospitals' wages bill
Three acute hospitals treating Wiltshire patients are looking at radical proposals that could result in health staff being sacked unless they agree to changes to pay and conditions.
NHS bosses are suggesting terminating staff contracts and offering new ones on different terms, according to a leaked document.
The Royal United Hospital in Bath, Salisbury District Hospital and the Great Western Hospital in Swindon are among 19 hospital trusts in the South West that have joined a consortium to look at changing terms for staff.
The issue was discussed in secret by hospital boards earlier in the year.
Motivation for the proposals is to cut costs and the bills for pay, which is between 60 and 70 per cent of the hospitals’ total expenditure.
The leaked document suggests pay cuts, reducing holiday leave and removing overtime pay for nights, weekends and bank holidays.
It states: “Unless ‘voluntary’ agreement could be secured via either collective bargaining or majority acceptance following direct appeal to staff, it is likely that trusts would be obliged to dismiss and re-engage staff to secure such changes.
“This might present the opportunity to consider proposing a range of options, as part of a package, which between them represent a ‘sweet and sour’ proposition for staff.
“Such a proposition could include combining some harder measures (eg, the withdrawal of some existing payments/reward practices) with some other more attractive, performance-driven approaches (eg, introduction of additional reward for high performing staff).”
The trusts that have joined the South West consortium have paid £10,000 each and will make a decision in October on the proposals.
Christina McAnea, head of health at the union UNISON, said: “We are in no doubt that this is an attempt by employers in a low wage area to introduce regional pay by stealth. If, as these trusts claim, the plans are about rewarding good staff then they are not necessary.
“Well performing staff can be rewarded under the existing national agreement.”
Oonagh Fitzgerald, director of workforce and education at Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The trust has agreed to work as part of a pay, terms and conditions consortium to explore different ways of pay and reward for staff that will help us meet the serious financial and operational challenges.”
A spokesman for the RUH said: “We are one of 19 NHS trusts who are members of the South West Pay, Terms and Conditions Consortium, a regional steering group established to address the serious financial and operational challenges facing the NHS, both now and in the future.
“It is very early days in the discussions but the focus is on improving quality of care and productivity in the NHS.
“It is also about how we can better use public money and the pay bill, which is up to 70 per cent of overall spend, to achieve improvements in patient care at a time when efficiency savings must be made.”