Hospital Dr News

Doctors may face redundancy over pay dispute

Up to 6,000 doctors and other healthcare staff could lose their jobs in the south west if they do not sign up to a regional deal that will reduce their pay terms and conditions.

The warning comes from the so-called ‘pay cartel’ – a consortium of 19 NHS trusts – formed to look into regional pay in the South West.

Speaking at the Acute and General Medicine 2012 conference in London, Chris Bown, chief executive at Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and chair of the consortium, said trusts faced unprecedented financial and workforce challenges and the time had come for them to tackle the pay bill which consumed 70% of their spending.

Costs could no longer be cut by the efficiency approaches such as improving productivity or changing skill mix that had been used over the last few years.

“The world has changed and we all felt very strongly that as responsible employers we had to have a transparent and open debate about choosing a set of pay and terms and conditions that is fit for purpose not just for the short term but over the next three to six years. The real drive behind the work of the pay consortium has been about sustainability of organisations, clinical services and employment.”

But he admitted that trusts would struggle to find 6,000 people who were “not making a contribution” and that if staff were axed the quality of clinical services would suffer.

Their aim was to establish a set of pay and conditions which rewarded performance and changed in behaviour. For staff it would mean increased job security.

But Dr Nick Jenkins, a consultant in emergency medicine at Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, asked: “Even if you pay people less how does that guarantee job security?”

Bown then admitted:  “I don’t think we can guarantee job security but what we can do is increase the prospect of improved job security. It’s a balancing act that we need to achieve and discuss with staff.”

Nick Seddon, deputy director of the think tank Reform, who was chairing the debate said  trusts may be accused of becoming terrible places to work.

Bown said staff may well find it attractive to sacrifice one day’s annual leave or work one hour more a week in return for greater job security. “When I talk to staff job security is important. With the significant financial challenges we face job security is going to be much more at risk,” he said.

He said the time had come for trusts to use affordability as a justification for examining pay terms and conditions.

David Amos, a healthcare human resources and public services management consultant and KPMG associate, who is advising the consortium, said this was the first time trusts have got together to discuss pay, terms and conditions and there was a lot of interest in what they were doing from other trusts around the country. A recent survey by the Foundation Trust Network revealed that 70% of its members had an appetite for introducing more flexible regional pay terms and conditions. A couple of trusts had already gone out on their own in a minor way.

The consortium comprised 20 trusts when it was first formed earlier this year. But recently Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which is in the process of merging with Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, decided to pull out. The trust said that it had been encouraged by progress currently being made in national pay negotiations and that that the consortium’s proposals were providing a distraction for staff during the merger.

The consortium is working to produce a full business case by end of calendar year then individual boards will each consider it and decide what to do next.

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8 Responses to “Doctors may face redundancy over pay dispute”

  1. @Flattliner says:

    And what will the Consortium do if the doctors stand firm? We could all survive without pay for a month, maybe longer. Call their bluff and demonstrate what can be achieved; the BMA plainly have no balls so lets prove the obvious without them: Managers need us more than we need them.

  2. Mkm says:

    This cartel can take a running jump!! Call their bluff – as if all staff left at once their services would collapse resulting in the management all losing their jobs! Public outcry would be deafening with their anger also directed at NHS management and their government paymasters. United we stand…………

  3. Once was a Soldier says:

    United?? Doctors?? Well there’s a first time for everything! If only we had a strong union whose primary (nay only) focus was on the well being of its members……back to reality – no chance!
    The Consortium model is undoubtedly the way forward for Trusts to reduce costs as their income is effectively fixed by the Government who would very much like to see these changes but hasn’t got the courage to (a) discuss or (b) implement them. When the South West has finished flying its kites the final business case (?early next year when the winter bed pressures have eased) will appear far more mellow and acceptable to our union. The well recognised domino effect will then see every other region in turn going down the same route.
    Of course I may be entirely wrong – but anyone got a better prediction??

  4. Dr Grumpy says:

    A good way to go?
    I would have thought that for some doctors closer to retirement that redundancy (and redundancy payments) early pension and the prospect of re-employment would be incredibly tempting. It could lead to operational chaos and serious financial risk for the region if only people would dare to consider their proposals more seriously.Go for it!

  5. Chopsy says:

    I heard that the government has now rejected the idea of regional pay negotiations/settlements in the nhs. Is that correct?

  6. David Gordon says:

    No doubt Chris Bown and all his CE chums in this cartel are in the vanguard of these proposed changes and have already voluntarily taken a cut in leave and salary to get tjhe ball rolling and set a fine leadership example. Could also save some NHS money across the country by not using KPMG consultants. And for the next fairy tale…………..

  7. Grimreaper says:

    The real issue is that the NHS in its present form is not sustainable. The idea of “free health” at the point of delivery is good, but is no longer realistic. In an attempt to maintain this impossible goal the Government and its delegated bodies are systematically dismantling the good will and morale of many in the NHS. The NHS is becoming an increasingly unattractive place to work. This regional pay debacle, if it goes through, may achieve some short term (financial) benefit but will do irreparable longer term harm to staffing ,recruitment and eventually to patient choice and safety.
    My Son has jumped through a huge number of hoops in order to study Medicine at Cambridge. Why?? Not sure why he should bother or why he would want to work as a doctor in the UK. I have told him to do his American examinations because the NHS is no place for bright hard working, motivated young doctors.

  8. OldTimer says:

    Like Grimreaper’s son, my daughter (now qualified) and orthopedic SpR fiance are looking at jobs in Australia as they see the NHS being ruined by heavy-handed and self-seeking management.

    The consortium are not interested in flexibility they just want cuts – to make up for mis-management, hopeless accounting and political cowardice. They should not be treated as a legitimate organisation.

    The BMA should be vociferous and resolute in refusing even to consider regional variation in pay and conditions of service. If trusts want to make redundancies they will have to pay for them (under the present contracts) and pay for someone else to do the work. It is a classic bluff to try and soften us up.

    Patients need good doctors and more of them, not less. We should stand up for quality of care in the NHS or we will be rightly blamed by future generations of doctors for letting down the profession.

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