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Regional pay moves are ‘short-sighted’

BMA says regional system undermines national ethos of NHS

Jo Carlowe

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Regionally negotiated pay and conditions would undermine the national ethos of the NHS, waste resources, and could make it harder for some areas to recruit high-quality staff, warns the British Medical Association.

In a new briefing paper, published this week, the BMA has described as ‘short-sighted’ measures introduced in the South West in which 20 NHS trusts have formed a consortium seeking to break away from nationally negotiated contracts. 

Its proposals include cutting pay, increasing hours, and reducing protected time in which consultants can work on non-clinical activities to improve quality.

However the BMA has warned that such a system would undermine the shared national values of the NHS. The Association is also arguing that a move towards regional variations in pay would make it harder for some parts of the health service to recruit and retain high-calibre staff.

Dr Mark Porter, Chair of Council at the BMA, said: “If this initiative is allowed to go ahead, other regions are likely to follow suit, taking us further away from a truly national health service. We do not want to see a skills drain away from certain areas of the country, particularly in more remote regions.

“This is a distraction from serious attempts to address the massive financial challenges facing the NHS. Instead of wasting resources on short-term measures for which there is no evidence, and that will only serve to demoralise staff, we should focus on ways to genuinely improve efficiency and quality.”

The briefing paper also warns that a model where different parts of the NHS negotiated separately would create additional costs leading to waste, duplication and inefficiency.

In addition, it suggests such a move would demoralise staff causing some to leave the NHS or retire early and a move away from national contracts for doctors could increase regional variations in clinical quality.

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