Katie Musgrave 0

Medical Staff Against Regional Pay

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The South West Pay, Terms and Conditions Consortium has had up to £200,000 of public money invested in a campaign to renegotiate the terms and conditions which apply to NHS staff in the South West. A leaked document revealed the consortium had even mooted the possibility of terminating clinician's contracts and re-employing with new pay and conditions.  This does not seem to be in keeping with an open debate or 'meaningful engagement'.

There are 19 participating trusts, presently investigating methods by which both pay and conditions in the South West may be diminished. A recent statement openly proposes (amongst other changes):

  • a pay reduction of 1%
  • extended working hours
  • reduced maternity pay rights
  • reduced sickness pay 
  • reduced antisocial hours payments for junior doctors. This could include extending plain hours to Saturday working, and social hours to 9pm.

Regional pay was clearly ruled out by George Osborne in December's Autumn Statement. The British Medical Association also strongly rejects the move which would, in effect, establish a local 'pay cartel'. However, the consortium has opted to continue their campaign to 'modernise' and 'optimise' the pay, terms and conditions, 

"as well as ‘long list’ the potential workforce cost reduction opportunities which may be considered by those negotiating ‘fit for purpose’ pay, terms and conditions."

As medical staff in the South West, it is essential that we make our voice heard, against these stealth changes.  We may not have hundreds of thousands of pounds at our disposal, but we have our experience, reputation and professional integrity to support our campaign. These changes will inevitably drive down standards in the South West, and we must act to protect our hospitals.

In 2010 and 2011, the Peninsula deanery had the fourth lowest competition ratios for newly qualified doctors joining the Foundation Programme (of 21 Foundation Schools). For core medical training in 2012, the competition ratio was fourth lowest (of 16 deaneries). With poorer pay and conditions, as are being proposed by the consortium, this will inevitably drive a 'two-tier' NHS. With already low competition ratios, when compared to London and other bigger centres, the South West will find the quality of its medical staff are degraded.  If the South West is taken out of nationally agreed terms and conditions for staff, the repercussions of a decline in standards of healthcare can be confidently predicted.

The Francis Report, recently investigating the failures at Mid Staffordshire NHS trust, has reinforced the necessity of high quality medical and nursing staff. Notably, those trusts under review with unexpectedly high death rates have not been in the larger hospitals in our bigger cities, but in smaller, regional hospitals.  Medical leadership and excellence is required to prevent future failings which can lead to unnecessary patient death rates and morbidity.   

So, if you believe that a renegotiation of regional pay and conditions in the South West will ultimately lead to a deterioration in the quality and standards of patient care

please sign your name, grade and hospital (in comment box), and join a campaign to protect patients in the South West.


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