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U-turns

NHS regional pay

  • Health secretary backs lower pay for NHS staff in poorer areas – The Observer, 22 Apr 2012
  • Chancellor abandons regional pay – Health Service Journal, 5 Dec 2012

In April, Andrew Lansley gave his support to plans for regional pay in the NHS.

The Observer reported:

Andrew Lansley, the health secretary, is threatening another controversial revolution in the NHS by proposing that its staff be paid less if they work in poorer parts of the country.

The cabinet minister is backing a plan for regional pay, which would mean that nurses, midwives, hospital porters, cleaners and paramedics would earn less if they work in the north or the Midlands rather than in the south of England. Official documents reveal that the only exemption backed by the Department of Health would be for highly paid managers working in new bodies established to deliver Lansley’s controversial NHS reform programme, widely criticised as a privatisation of the health service…

The revelation was seized upon by the government’s critics on Saturday night as fresh evidence that the coalition is out of touch with the British public.

Health unions accused the health secretary of seeking to drive down wages in the provinces with the crippling consequence of creating an ever deeper north-south economic divide. They said women would be particularly badly hit by the proposals.

In today’s autumn statement, chancellor George Osborne abandoned NHS regional pay, as the HSJ reports:

Osborne has abandoned plans to introduce regional pay in the NHS. However, he accepted the NHS Pay Review Body’s call for the Agenda for Change pay framework to be altered in order “to meet the challenges and cost pressures in the NHS”.

The review body has also recommended a “fundamental review of higher cost area zones” which see staff working predominantly in London and the South East paid more.

The decision to retain national pay bargaining is a major victory for health unions and Liberal Democrats who had opposed the introduction of regional pay when it was mooted in March this year.

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