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'Regional pay deal will put NHS staff at breaking point'

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: September 12, 2012

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A survey of more than 1,000 health workers in the South West has revealed that 97% are deeply worried about proposals to establish a regional pay cartel in the NHS.

Researchers for Unison found some key workers voicing concerns that a reduction in pay and conditions would leave them without enough money to put food on the table.

The 20 health trusts which have signed up to the South West Pay Consortium, including hospitals in Truro, Plymouth and Exeter, say they are trying to find ways of meeting unprecedented financial challenges.

But unions will today meet MPs from the region to express their firm opposition to the group.

In a response to the survey, one nurse summed up the feelings of many: "Already we are pushed to the limit and beyond to maintain a service.

"We provide most of the care for patients and are poorly rewarded for this. I am getting poorer by the year, and also have to pay to park in an empty hospital car park at night.

"I live on a single income so expenses are harder and harder to manage.

"Loyalty, commitment, hard work mean nothing. Morale is bad enough without any more pressure."

Christina McAnea, Unison head of health, warned the SWC there would be serious consequences.

"The top-quality patient care that people in the South West need and deserve depends on top-quality staff," she said.

"We know that health staff across the country are under incredible pressure.

"This survey shows that the South West pay cartel's plans could push health workers in the region to breaking point.

"Some of the responses to our survey were heartbreaking. Health workers are worried for themselves – their mental health, their finances.

"They are worried about the impact on their families, but also what these changes would mean for their patients.

"In our briefing with MPs we will be warning that these plans not only contain risks to the smooth delivery of services to patients, but are also deeply unpopular politically.

"We will be urging them to put pressure on the trusts in their areas to put a stop to these damaging plans."

Recently released discussion documents from the SWC emphasise that "absolutely no proposals have been put forward regarding any proposed changes to pay, terms and conditions".

However, they go on to detail a number of "staff cost reduction potential opportunities" including asking people to work extra hours for no extra pay, reducing unsocial hours allowances and reducing sick pay for new starters.

A spokesman said: "The consortium is currently looking at ways in which amendments to pay, terms and conditions might support member trusts in maintaining financial health and organisational stability, now and in the years ahead, in the face of unprecedented operational and financial challenges.

"As significant employers and service providers, we believe we have a responsibility to look at how we most efficiently use our largest outgoing – pay – to support sustainable organisations, prioritising job security and viable, high-quality services over any need to make redundancies to meet these challenges.

"It is also important to note that the consortium is also considering areas in which staff may clearly benefit, for example by making investments in education and training, and ways in which high performers might be rewarded, beyond that which is currently possible."

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  • reiwruwiou  |  September 14 2012, 10:32AM

    Not quite sure what you are driving at, H_Trevorrow, but the bottom line is that business needs customers. If the customers are spending less because their pay is being cut, then it is hardly good for business. If everyone in an area is earning poor wages, then it is hardly going to encourage new businesses to spring up / move in, as the money isn't in the economy. Also you aren't going to attract quality staff, who would much rather do the same job for far more money elsewhere, hence the exodus of young people.

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  • H_Trevorrow  |  September 13 2012, 10:13PM

    pps rewwoaahhaa.....remember the primary motivations for the journo and publicist is to venus trap interest, therfore circulation increases etc....not to give balanced information and impartially inform debate......{keep e-mailing those red arrow chuckers rewohaa}

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  • H_Trevorrow  |  September 13 2012, 9:29PM

    Dear rewwooooowwwooo, even in your desired kernow bys vyken nirvana it would still be better to go back to a 1950 , or before style of public service where a relatively good wage/standard of living and more importantly a secure pension ....where service was the key workers motivation was the stus quo. Your flawed thinking, old thing, is that you want to keep mainlining the debt poison {think on}. The article above {remember that}is an example of popularist biased reporting designed to embolden the unwashed and washed in champers gov employess/ middle class{still think they are working class} to rage against the system from thier superfast broadband , on which they also enjoy sky etc.... and you and i are supposed to feel pity upon them...in order that more people click this page and buy thier pulpy inky offerings. No i do not have sky!

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  • reiwruwiou  |  September 13 2012, 12:50PM

    Sadly, Josdave is correct. The economy in this part of the world relies on the public sector to underpin the seasonal (and somewhat unpredictable) income from tourism. Perhaps we should be pushing for private sector workers to get better pay rather than assuming that all public sector workers are overpaid? It is a scandal that most private sector jobs advertised in this part of the country seem to be "minimum wage" - what would we be paid if the minimum wage was scrapped? It seems to me that big business feels the need to compete with the far east, and in so doing we are converting our country into a "Sweat shop" economy, where anyone percieved as being paid more than the lowest of salaries is regarded as some kind of parasitic sponger. We need to stop the "Brain Drain" as our brightest young people migrate to other parts of the country to earn more money in a broader range of businesses - we won't do this by impoverishing people in the south west.

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  • josdave  |  September 13 2012, 8:10AM

    If you read my comment you would have seen that this lowering of wages in already low waged areas will mean less money going into the local economy and therefore less likelihood of new businesses starting up as you claimed to want. Whether you support the public sector workers or not, and clearly you have a bee in your bonnet against them, they are essential to the local economy and should be supported. Most are on quite low wages, regardless of what you get from the media and as a consequence do not get much of a pension and you would see them even worse off when they retire. Aren't you the humanitarian?

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  • H_Trevorrow  |  September 13 2012, 1:04AM

    dear jobsdave..what you're implying is thaT the public sector needs to be super funded to keep our local economy going...lets extrapolate that and give all long term unemployed thier next 20 years social security up front instantly creating x thousand millionaiares... Sadly you believe that spending on the gov gravy train more will get us out of our debt crisis.....spending needs desperately to be directed at growing small medium and sole trader businesses..not the super rich as cameroon has done or mollycodlingly state induced middleclass greed in the public sector....the sooner half wits stop lamenting the excessive wages on govgravytrain.lol and grasp this reality the better for one and all sweety capiche

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  • josdave  |  September 12 2012, 11:08PM

    Not only will it mean workers in a low wage area getting lower wages but there is the knock on effect that there will be less money spent in what already is a poor area. So the economy of the poor regions will suffer while the rich areas continue to prosper. When I hear of bankers giving up their bonuses and their lush lifestyle because their consciences are bothering them only then will I believe "we are all in this together". We didn't cause this recession but we are the ones paying the price.

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  • AnGof1955  |  September 12 2012, 10:02PM

    Will this regional pay equally be used with MP's pay? ummmm let me guess.

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  • omnivore23  |  September 12 2012, 7:08PM

    Living off the taxpayer - what you mean living on social security benefits Old Jamaica? No, I haven't and nor has Kinnock.

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  • oldjamaica  |  September 12 2012, 6:10PM

    @omnivore23 dont you mean a lifetime of living off the taxpayer both in the UK and brussels. ive never done that i can assure you. what about you?

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