The government is ‘pushing ahead’ with its commitment to improve career progression for NHS nurses, health and social care secretary Steve Barclay has announced.
In an open letter to NHS staff, Mr Barclay said work was to start on implementing the non-pay elements of the NHS Agenda for Change deal agreed with unions in England last month.
These elements include enhanced career progression, safer staffing levels, reducing agency spend and improving NHS workforce welfare and morale.
According to Mr Barclay’s letter, the Department for Health and Social Care and the NHS Staff Council – which is made up of health unions – will jointly chair a programme board, working with leaders from NHS England and NHS Employers to begin implementing the non-pay commitments of the deal.
‘We will work jointly with the NHS Staff Council to look for ways to improve nursing career progression,’ Mr Barclay said.
He also reaffirmed that employment terms and conditions would be amended to ensure that staff would not suffer a detriment to basic pay when undertaking apprenticeships as part of agreed career development.
In addition, NHS Pay Review Body (NHSPRB) stakeholders – including health unions, NHS Employers, NHS Providers, NHS England and devolved administrations – are being invited to share their views on how the process can work more effectively. Elements for discussion include timing of the pay round, the appointments process for members, input of the NHS Staff Council and the data and evidence that is fed in.
Unison general secretary Christina McAnea commented that the NHSPRB ‘belongs in a different time’ and should be replaced with annual pay negotiations.
Ms McAnea said: ‘A more relevant, modern approach to setting pay in the NHS is long overdue. It’s time to hit reset, ditch the review body and agree to annual pay talks. That’s the best solution for the NHS, its staff and patients.’
The health secretary’s open letter to NHS staff follows the implementation of the recently agreed pay deal in England, with newly qualified NHS nurses on Band 5 receiving £1,890 in one-off payments while seeing their basic pay increase to over £28,400.