Over the last year, the NHS Employers organisation has been continuing a programme of employer engagement with the full range of NHS organisations, on their priorities for national pay and conditions of service. We have held direct discussions, including one-to-one meetings with NHS chief executives, at regional network meetings of human resources directors, and NHS Confederation and other employer networks throughout the year. There has also been substantive discussion with the NHS Employers policy board, and with employer representatives on the NHS Staff Council.
To complement these broader qualitative employer engagement activities, we have also collected views of HR directors through the first HSJ/NHS Employers Barometer Survey in 2013, and from a subsequent online workforce survey of employers.
Our key messages to the NHS Pay Review Body include:
- The imperative for NHS organisations for 2014/15 and beyond will be to continue to meet the growing demand for high quality, compassionate patient services. The reports of Robert Francis QC, the Government's initial response, and the subsequent review by the NHS England Medical Director, have highlighted the scale of the quality and organisational challenges facing the NHS. Putting patients at the heart of all the NHS does means that any changes to national pay, terms and conditions have to be seen in this context.
- The changes recently agreed to the Agenda for Change national agreement, that introduce a clearer link between pay progression and performance and changes to sick pay, have been welcomed by employers as a start to the process of reforming the national pay system and changing the culture in the NHS.
- Further reform of national pay and conditions are needed, to make them more supportive of the delivery of seven day patient services, and financially sustainable for the future.
- NHS organisations are facing unprecedented financial and efficiency challenges, with demand for healthcare growing at a rate that current funding will struggle to match. Continuing restraint of paybill growth will continue to be essential, to ensure continued delivery of high quality patient services, and to minimise the loss of key frontline staff.
- There is no evidence to support increasing the national scales on recruitment or retention grounds. This continues to be generally stable across the country.
A copy of the full NHS Employers submission to the NHS Pay Review Body 2014/15 is now available.