60,000 doctors and nurses to be told cut pay or be axed
UP TO 60,000 doctors and nurses in the South West face the sack unless they accept cuts in pay and working conditions, a Sunday newspaper claims.
NHS bosses at 19 hospitals in the region have suggested terminating all staff contracts and re-offering them on different terms, according to a leaked document obtained by The Sunday Times.
New terms could include pay cuts of up to five per cent, an end to overtime for nights, weekends and bank holidays, and reduced holiday leave.
The Herald reported last month that 16 hospitals in the South West – including Derriford – had banded together in a bid to drive down wages.
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The latest revelations suggest that up to 60,000 health professionals in the South West could be hit. Health chiefs are said to be working together to prevent being "singled out" and unable to take on the unions.
They believe that by co-operating they will be able to overcome an "extremely hostile" reaction, especially if they take the "last resort" of sacking all staff and re-engaging them on less favourable terms.
Jeannett Martin, director of the Royal College of Nursing in the South West, said: "If this proposal is implemented in the South West it will have serious implications for patient care."
And the British Medical Association (BMA) said doctors were concerned about the development of a pay cartel of NHS employers in the South West.
Ms Martin said: "It is really quite shocking that, at a time when the NHS is so strapped for cash, the trusts are ploughing £200,000 into a scheme to cut pay, terms and conditions for hard-working NHS staff.
"In addition, there will need to be significant internal human resources and financial resources to deliver this agenda.
"This is money that should be spent on improving patient care in the South West – not on a project that aims to leave staff working longer hours, with less annual leave and for a smaller pay packet.
"The history of the NHS has been littered with similar attempts to introduce local pay in the past and the employers have consistently been unable to deliver on this.
"The Government should be focusing on sustaining the morale of nurses, many of whom are working under extreme pressure.
"We believe morale and motivation across the NHS workforce could be further damaged by a move to local pay."
A BMA spokesman said: "Doctors raised concerns at the BMA's annual meeting about the potential development of a sizeable pay cartel of NHS employers in the South West of England.
"This is not how successful and sustainable efficiencies are going to be achieved. Effective recruitment, retention and movement of doctors is essential."
A Department of Health spokesperson said: "NHS providers have long had the power to employ staff on such terms that they consider appropriate.
"Employers are free to negotiate any changes to national agreements directly with staff locally or their representatives."
Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham said the cuts were a direct result of David Cameron's failure to honour his general election promise to protect spending on the NHS.