NHS Pay Strategy

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2010 Health Care Service Group Conference
20 April 2010

Conference recognises that the political and economic challenges facing the NHS across the UK in the immediate future and the longer term require UNISON to develop a coherent strategy for both defending and improving future pay, terms and conditions.

Whilst there are increasing differences in the way in which the four UK administrations choose to organise health care, all four systems face significant financial challenges as shortfalls in funding and cuts in spending create tough policy choices for all in the NHS.

Conference rejects the policy position put forward by some senior politicians and commentators that the pay of NHS staff should be frozen and defined benefit pension schemes ended as a solution to these challenges.

Whilst NHS pay has risen above inflation over the past year, this was preceded by two years of below inflation uplifts. Inflation is unlikely to remain at the low levels of 2008 and in any case the increased cost of basic goods and services for lower paid workers has continued to outstrip the Retail and Consumer Price Indexes.

Conference notes that the average pension in the NHS is approximately £5,000 per annum; hardly ‘gold-plated.’

Conference also rejects the view that NHS pay levels should be set simply by reference to labour market conditions. Such a policy could lead to significant regional and local pay differences and pay inequalities, high labour turnover and long term problems with workforce planning.

Surveys of NHS employing organisations including Foundation trusts, on pay, terms and conditions, show that there is little appetite amongst managers and boards to move away from Agenda for Change. UNISON and its Health Conference has consistently supported the equality proofed UK wide national agreement.

Conference has also consistently voted to support the principle of independent review of pay through the NHS Pay Review Body process and this process has similarly been supported by employers and governments of all political persuasions.

Conference therefore resolves to vigorously oppose calls for pay freezes or for local or regional pay determination that would directly undermine the national agreement.

Conference calls on the Service Group Executive to organise during 2010/11

among branches, regions and nations a high profile campaign in opposition to

the public sector pay freeze and to begin preparatory work for a potential

industrial action ballot including strike action, of all members covered by

Agenda for Change.

Conference reaffirms that UNISON’s pay strategy for the coming years should focus on:

i.Defending and improving the UK wide national agreement

ii.Maintenance of the value of existing pay scales at all levels

iii.Reduction in the number of incremental points in long pay bands

iv.Merger of Pay bands 1 & 2

v.Flat rate increases for all pay points up to point 14

vi.Continue to extend the national agreement to other providers of NHS services

including GP practices

vii.Progressive reduction in the standard working week towards 35 hours

viii.Defending the NHS Pension schemes

ix.Negotiate improvements in the subsistence rates

In addition we should conclude the existing work on:

1. The review of on-call payments and consult with UNISON members on any proposed changes, recognising and reaffirming the existing conference policy that no health worker should suffer detriment in comparison with the interim arrangements.

2. The Review of national Recruitment & Retention Payments as required by the Hartley equal pay judgment.