NHS deals `could cut pay'

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The Independent Online
Managers were yesterday accused of attaching hidden "strings" to pay deals for nurses and other health workers that could cut their earnings, writes Barrie Clement. Unison, the public service union, said while many NHS trusts were offering 3 per cent, the conditions could mean a drop in pay.

Some hospitals are trying to convert bank holidays into an annual leave entitlement, which would abolish premium rates. If all 10 statutory days off are affected, employees could lose up to 5 per cent of their pay, according to Bob Abberley, head of health at Unison. Other strings include targets for reducing absence, which could lead to nurses passing diseases on to patients by coming in while sick, Mr Abberley said.

Some employers are tying local deals to financial performance, which could mean pay freezes next year.

The union fears that while basic salaries might be increased by 3 per cent, additional allowances would be unchanged. Outside London, such payments normally make up between 10 and 15 per cent of earnings. In the capital, because of London weighting allowance, the proportion is higher.

Other packages are conditional on the introduction of a local pay system next year, or on an "open-ended" commitment to flexibility.

The nurses' pay review body on 9 February offered a 1 per cent national rise with a recommendation that up to 2 per cent be negotiated through local deals. Other health workers received the same offer, but no figure was given for local deals.