Health trusts get local pay bargaining deadline

FEARS that local pay bargaining for doctors will encourage wide differences in salaries and fragment the health service more than any other measure, have been fuelled by a new Government instruction to all NHS trusts, writes Celia Hall.

Alan Langlands, chief executive of the NHS, has instructed trust chief executives to have action plans prepared by October so that local pay machinery can be in place by next April. 'Trusts will then be in a position to ensure that a significant proportion of pay in 1995-96 will be based on local needs and achievements,' he says in a letter to the trusts, shown to the Independent.

The British Medical Association says that Mr Langlands' letter goes further - and faster - than they had been led to believe. Dr Sandy Macara, chairman of the BMA council, responding to Mr Langlands, said: 'We have made it absolutely clear that the profession has fundamental problems over the Government's proposals. Until these proposals and until the negotiations are satisfactorily concluded, it seems to be entirely inappropriate for the National Health Service executive to be giving detailed instructions to trusts that anticipate the outcome of the negotiations.'

There is already growing anger among consultants over plans to impose an element of performance-related pay on hospital and public health service doctors and the new deadlines will raise opposition even further in the run-up to the BMA conference next month.

Nearly half the pay increases awarded to the British workforce are now related to performance, but managers are deeply divided over its merits, according to a study published by the independent Industrial Society.

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