Trust targets national terms and conditions
8 November 2012
The BMA and other trade unions are alarmed by a trust’s plans to bypass national terms and conditions to cut employees’ sick pay.
North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust is consulting with staff about removing sickness enhancements made to employees who work unsociable hours.
The changes would affect Agenda for Change staff at the University Hospital of North Tees and the University Hospital of Hartlepool.
BMA industrial relations officer Paul Atkinson is in dialogue with the trust about the proposals.
He said: ‘What they are doing is a very bad tactic. Everybody in the local area and the unions are watching this trust. It’s causing a lot of alarm.’
The issue is due to be discussed at the trust’s local negotiating committee meeting.
The trust was yesterday due to be named as one of 11, apart from the 20 involved in the South West Pay, Terms and Conditions Consortium, which are considering breaking away from national terms and conditions of service.
Earlier this week shadow health secretary Andy Burnham led a Commons debate on the issue of regional pay, and claims to have identified a total of 31 trusts in England considering altering national pay agreements.
The majority of these proposals would affect Agenda for Change staff, but the BMA has always had concerns that if such deals went ahead, doctors’ terms and conditions would be considered next.
The BMA briefed MPs ahead of the debate.
North Tees and Hartlepool director of human resources Clare Curran said the cuts were necessary to achieve £40m of savings the trust needed to make.
She said: ‘As well as having to pay the enhanced rates to staff who are absent, we also often have to bring in agency staff to cover these posts and pay those people enhanced rates of pay.
‘Absence puts additional pressure on staff who are at work, and adds to the trust’s financial pressures. This is why we have begun this consultation with staff and trade unions about changing this element of NHS terms and conditions.’
She said sickness enhancement pay cost the trust £432,961 last financial year and £217,479 between April and August this year.
A spokesperson for the trust denied that it was considering redundancies or that HR1 forms, used by employers to give notice of redundancies, had been issued.
The BMA and other NHS trade unions have stated they will not engage in regional negotiations that undermine national agreements.