FTN calls for a more flexible NHS pay framework
Pay is an important way to encourage good practice and efficiency in the NHS and managers should not be bound by rigid national agreements, the Foundation Trust Network (FTN) said.
Nationally negotiated terms and conditions have a role to play but can be overly constrictive and hamper NHS managers' ability to reward staff for effective working and modernise working practices.
The FTN is calling for a more flexible NHS pay framework. Pay accounts for between 60% and 70% of an average NHS trust’s costs. Although pay scales have not increased, automatic pay progressions means that 60% of staff will receive an average pay increase of 3.4% this financial year.
Chris Hopson, chief executive of the Foundation Trust Network (FTN) said:
“Three cheers for another piece of clear thinking on the NHS from Reform. NHS trust boards need the flexibility to have an honest and open dialogue with their staff about how they maintain and improve the quality of patient care whilst managing workforce costs, which typically account for between 65% and 70% of an average Trust’s costs. It’s the kind of conversation that most large employers have had with their workforces over the last three years but NHS Trusts have found impossible to have due to the restrictions of being tied into a single, very inflexible, national agreement. In our recent survey every single one of our members said they both wanted and needed more flexible terms and conditions and it’s good to see this case being made so cogently by Reform.
“No one should prejudge the outcome of a move to more flexible arrangements. To imply that they will automatically mean worse outcomes for jobs, pay and staff is wrong. It might mean more and different jobs, better paid, with an employment guarantee, in return for some changes to terms and conditions. We won’t know until that shift occurs. In the meantime we recognise the importance of trying to get the most that we can out of national negotiations on Agenda for Change. Any deal that is secured is welcome but we all know that it is insufficient, on its own, to meet trusts’ requirements going forward.
Earlier this week there were two debates on pay in the NHS in Parliament: an Opposition day debate on regional pay in the NHS; and a Westminster Hall debate, moved by former Labour health minister, Ben Bradshaw. Labour lost the motion in the House of Commons calling on the government to stop the spread of regional pay in the NHS by 292 votes to 226.
The Foundation Trust Network (FTN) is the membership organisation for the NHS acute hospitals and community, mental health and ambulance services that treat patients and service users in the NHS. The FTN helps those NHS trusts deliver high quality, patient focussed, care by enabling them to learn from each other, acting as their public voice and helping shape the system in which they operate. The FTN has over 210 members – more than 90% of all NHS foundation trusts and aspirant trusts – who collectively account for £65 billion of annual expenditure and employ more than 630,000 staff.