Health workers protest over 'postcode lottery' pay threat

PUBLISHED: 12:00 08 September 2012

Unison, Unite and Royal College of Nursing representatives outside the Hospital.

Unison, Unite and Royal College of Nursing representatives outside the Hospital.

Archant

PROTESTERS made their voices heard outside Weston General Hospital on Tuesday to campaign against a 'postcode lottery over pay' which, they say, could see their salaries reduced by up to 15 per cent.

The North Somerset Unison protesters gathered outside Weston Area Health Trust’s (WAHT) monthly board meeting on Tuesday morning.

WAHT has joined a consortium of 20 health trusts which have joined forces to make savings equivalent to the cost of 6,000 jobs in three years, as an alternative to cutting staff.

The South West Pay and Conditions Consortium will look at how to make those savings and deliver a plan by the end of the year.

But North Somerset Unison says the consortium will reduce staff pay by moving away from national terms and conditions to regional pay rates.

A spokesman said: “This means a nurse in Weston will be paid less than a nurse in Birmingham for doing exactly the same job.

“A move to regional pay will have a devastating effect on the local economy and on patient care across the North Somerset district.

“The proposed pay cuts will also result in many healthcare workers leaving the South West to move to other areas of the country where the pay is better.”

Unison also said 2,000 people working in the South West are public health trust workers.

The spokesman added: “A 15 per cent cut to their pay will have a devastating effect on the local economy. It will dramatically reduce spending power and have a negative impact on the private sector.”

WAHT says it needs to ‘explore options’ over pay without making major staff cuts.

A spokesman said: “The consortium and this trust believe the challenge can best be addressed by exploring options for change and flexibility around pay, terms and conditions, without the need for a large reduction in staff numbers that would undermine services and impact on patients and staff.

“The consortium has not yet put forward any proposals.”

Discussion documents which are online at www.meeting thechallenge.info outline its potential plans.

The spokesman added: “By the end of the year the consortium will produce a model business case setting out the scale of change required and the options for delivering it, which it will then be up to individual trusts to consider and take forward.”

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