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Commons to vote on Wednesday as moves to break-away from national pay spreads across England. 

Defending national pay in NHS is key part of Labour’s Living Wage campaign. 

Burnham: "Ministers must step in and end confusion."

Labour will present new evidence to Parliament tomorrow (Wednesday 7 November) showing moves to break away from national pay in the NHS are spreading across England. A total of 31 NHS trusts, including 20 in the South West region, have been exploring opting out of national pay. Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham will call on Jeremy Hunt to step in, stop the break-away and defend the principle of national pay in the NHS.

Senior Government Ministers are on record saying they will not allow a regional pay system in the NHS. But evidence is emerging that growing numbers of NHS trusts across England are seeking to follow the lead of trusts in the South West and break from the national Agenda for Change system.

20 trusts in the South West have formed a 'pay cartel' with the aim of creating a regional pay system. They have developed plans to reduce pay, increase working hours and cut sickness entitlements. 

Ministers' failure to stop these moves in the South West is leading to 11 further trusts following suit as the financial crisis grips the NHS:

  • North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust plans to sack over 5,000 staff members early next year and re-hire them on reduced terms and conditions and the neighbouring South Tees trust has confirmed it is exploring similar action.
  • Sunderland City Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust have introduced a policy to freeze the pay increment of any member of staff who does not receive an annual appraisal or complete certain training modules, contrary to national Agenda for Change terms. 
  • Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust are freezing pay increments for staff who do not complete seven mandatory training modules, or who do not receive an appraisal in a 12-month period.
  • Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust are withdrawing a cost of living allowance and Christmas payments, whilst increasing the Chief Executive’s salary to £189,000.
  • Mid Cheshire Hospitals Foundation Trust have confirmed they are looking at alternative terms and conditions on sick pay.
  • Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust tried to impose new rules to defer incremental pay rises if staff had been off sick.
  • University Hospital of South Manchester Foundation Trust’s three year plan said they will consider “proposals for changes to terms and conditions outside of the national framework”
  • Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust has said it will assess moving away from Agenda for Change as part of plans to save £2.6m by 2014 from changes to staff allowances and terms and conditions 
  • Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust attempted to impose inferior terms and conditions of new, non-medical employees but withdrew these plans after union pressure.

Andy Burnham MP, Labour's Shadow Health Secretary, said in advance of the debate: 

"The NHS is fragmenting before our eyes. National pay is part of what holds our national service together. It is being broken apart and Ministers are doing absolutely nothing about it.

“This week, as we campaign for a Living Wage, we have to defend national pay in the NHS as the health service sets a lead for a whole range of other employers in every community.

"It is essential that the Health Secretary come to the Commons on Wednesday and clears up the confusion about Government policy on NHS pay. Staff deserve to know where they stand.

"If Jeremy Hunt believes in a national health service, he must step in, stop this break-away and defend the principle of national pay. It is fair to staff, brings stability to the health service and keeps costs under control.

"Just as we warned, the N in NHS is now under sustained attack. Labour calls on MPs on all sides who believe in keeping a national service to join us in sending a clear message."

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