Many concerned constituents have contacted me about the Government’s plan to break up national pay structures in the NHS and introduce regional pay.
In a submission to the NHS Pay Review Body, the Health Secretary backed the break-up of national pay structures in the NHS. The submission recommends the “introduction of one, or perhaps two, additional zones of geographical pay differentiation.” It adds: “These could then be assessed and the evidence base on market-facing pay further developed to permit the case for introducing further additional zones in the future.”
The majority of respondents to the NHS Pay Review Body did not agree with the Government’s proposals for local market facing pay, including NHS Employers, the Royal College of Nursing and the Royal College of Midwives. The Health Secretary was the only respondent who supported regional pay.
This plan is flawed on every level. It fails the economic test, as it will make it harder to control costs and reinforces the North-South divide.
It fails the heath policy test as different pay negotiations in different parts of the country risks instability in the NHS, with the risk of one area poaching staff from another. This could make it harder to bring the best staff to the more deprived parts of the country where the health challenge is often greatest.
It also fails the fairness test as it is often harder to work on the NHS front-line in more deprived parts of the country.
This proposal is all part of the Prime Minister's plan to remove the N from NHS and is explicitly linked to the advance of Mr Cameron's free market in health.
Nationally agreed pay agreements are an important part of the infrastructure that underpins a national health service, that is why I will continue to defend them. They are fair to staff, bring stability to the NHS and balance to our economy.