‘Trainee’ Nursing Assistants

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2014 Health Care Service Group Conference
27 November 2013

Conference notes that the NHS South of England recently promoted an apprenticeship programme for employers looking at recruiting staff into bands 1 to 4.

Their ‘NHS Manager’s Guide’ suggested a number of options for NHS Trusts to employ new ‘apprentices’ without them having to employ staff at the bottom of the appropriate pay band including:

1)paying staff on the apprentice minimum wage;

2)using fixed term contracts;

3)using an Apprentice Training Agency;

4)using Annex U of Agenda for Change which enables Trusts to pay a percentage of the top rate of a pay band for staff who fall within the category of ‘trainee’.

Conference notes with concern that this programme is being used by some unscrupulous NHS Trusts to employ new Nursing Assistants (NAs) on a rate below the bottom of band 2 when in fact the ‘trainee’ NAs will be working to the same job description and undertaking the same duties as any other previously new NA.

Conference further notes that at least two Trusts in the South West Region have imposed a change in pay for new NAs either without consulting their Staff Side or ignoring the views of their Staff Side. These Trusts are paying rates below the Living Wage of £7.65 an hour and are either paying new NA’s an apprentice minimum wage of £2.68 an hour or a rate of £6.70 an hour under Annex U during their training period. Conference notes that these trainee NAs are therefore many thousands of pounds worse off due to lower pay during their training and subsequent delayed progression compared to other band 2’s.

Conference condemns such plans if they are used to exploit ‘trainee’ staff by paying them less than the proper rate for the job and if they fail to award equal pay for work of equal value.

Conference calls on the Health Service Group Executive to:

a)support branches in challenging such proposals where they represent unfair and inequitable treatment of our future or existing members;

b)continue to campaign for the Living Wage for all our members in health care;

c)raise this issue with the employers side of the NHS Staff Council and seek to get a joint statement that such arrangements are contrary to the provisions of the national agreement, contravene decent partnership working and deny equal pay for work of equal value.