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Action needed over ‘grossly unfair’ pay differences

Uneven playing field threatens integrated care

Jo Carlowe

Friday, 09 November 2018

An uneven playing field over pay rises may undermine efforts to integrate health and care services.

The warning comes from the NHS Confederation which says tens and thousands of frontline staff delivering NHS care will miss out on the recent pay award, because they are not on Agenda for Change (A4C) contracts, an outcome it dubs ‘grossly unfair’.

The Government announced a pay rise in March, but it applied only to employees in publicly-owned providers on Agenda for Change (A4C) contracts. While it was extended to non-statutory providers of NHS services who employ staff on A4C terms ‘dynamically’ (meaning those that incorporate all new or amended terms agreed by the NHS Staff Council into staff contracts), there are still large numbers of staff working in voluntary, social enterprise and independent health and care sectors who will miss out.

Commenting, NHS Confederation chief executive Niall Dickson said: “This is grossly unfair. The pay award for those employed by NHS trusts was welcome, but it fails to recognise and reward the tens of thousands of other dedicated staff who are delivering frontline NHS care in independent, voluntary, social enterprise, and GP-run services. It also does nothing for nurses and others in social care, which will exacerbate recruitment and retention issues for those vital services.”

The NHS Confederation is calling ministers to look at the issue again ‘as a matter of urgency’ and wants future pay rises to be allocated and ringfenced through commissioners and the NHS tariff.

It warns that the uneven playing field could destabilise the already fragile community services sector, where around half of all services are delivered by non-statutory providers. Moreover, it says it is also highly likely social care – which already financially squeezed and has high numbers of vacancies - will face even greater difficulties in recruiting staff if all candidates are not offered the same pay deal.

“This is about more than just individuals losing out – it has serious implications for the future of the health and care services,” says Mr Dickson. “As we try to move towards more joined up care, we cannot have the government creating a pay system that sets up artificial barriers between services, and undermines the very policy it is trying to promote.”

Responding, a Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson told OnMedica: “Our historic pay deal has given a significant pay rise to over a million hardworking NHS staff and later this year we will set out plans to reform the adult social care system to make it sustainable for the future, including how better to attract and retain staff.

“Ministers are aware of the NHS Confederation’s concerns and will be meeting with Niall Dickson soon to discuss these.”

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