Health unions jubilant as Dorset County Hospital trust quits pay ‘cartel’
Unions have welcomed a decision by Dorset County Hospital to leave a “cartel” that aimed to set regional pay and conditions for staff throughout the South West.
The South West Pay and Conditions Consortium this week stated its intentions to return to the national negotiating table, after months in which it had insisted it had to take action to achieve major cuts in costs, with the alternative of job losses.
It now advocates working to implement changes agreed under the Agenda for Change conditions, and says any future terms should be nationally agreed.
But after considering a raft of changes to the way in which the consortium works, Dorset County Hospital Foundation Trust (DCHFT) this week quit the group over a final decision by the steering group to reserve the right to return to regional talks, should nationwide discussions “not progress well on workforce cost reduction” by July 13.
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It is the third trust to withdraw, following Bournemouth and Christchurch in November last year, and Northern Devon, which quit earlier this week, saying it welcomed the support of the trade unions.
The decision by the initial 20 trusts to set up the consortium last year caused outrage among many health workers and, according to unions, led to massive drop in morale.
Mark Power, head of human resources at DCHFT, said on Wednesday: “The consortium has been useful and productive in drawing attention to the need to reform elements of the national pay systems and in influencing recent developments. The board today reinforced its support for nationally negotiated terms and conditions and recognised the end of the consortium’s work.”
Unison regional secretary Joanne Kaye said: “This is great news for our members and shows the success of Unison’s campaign against regional and postcode pay.
“These are exceptionally difficult times, but with the threat of regional pay no longer hanging over members’ heads, Unison looks forward to working with the trust to face up to the challenges they are facing.
“We applaud this move by DCHFT, which follows hard on the heels of a similar announcement by Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust, and call on the other 17 trusts still in the Pay Consortium to follow their lead.”
Helen Eccles, Unison’s regional organiser, said: “Locally, members are delighted that the shadow of local pay has been lifted so they can get on with doing their jobs looking after patients.