Trade union Unison has hit back at Health Secretary Andrew Lansley’s backing of regional pay in the NHS, describing the proposal as a “divisive bureaucratic nightmare”.
According to a submission to the NHS Pay Review Body (NHS PRB) by the Department of Health, Lansley has supported an NHS regional pay initiative, leaving nurses working in poorer areas of the country with less pay.
The official document shows those managers heading up the new organisations tasked with delivering the government’s controversial health reforms would be exempt from the new NHS pay plan.
In today’s (23 April) submission to the NHS RPB, Unison has warned health workers’ patience is “running out” with staff already being hit by pay freezes, job cuts, reorganisation worries.
"The Department of Health's evidence on regional pay is built on sand,” said Christina McAnea, Head of Health for Unison.
“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.”
A DH spokesperson said the department’s evidence explains how more “market-facing” pay could help employers “make better use” of the NHS pay bill.
"We have submitted evidence to the independent NHS Pay Review Body as part of their review of how pay can be made more responsive to local labour markets in England,” said the spokesperson.
“This is a significant step towards creating a more balanced regional economy that ensures wages are set at the right level in every location across the public sector.”
Have your say below: Are you for or against regional pay?