Nurses at Hospitals to lose incentives

At Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust, almost 1,000 staff members are set to lose the recruitment and retention premium. Trust managers say this move will help the organization in saving around £0.5m a year. The unions have threatened to challenge this move. The payment was originally introduced at a time when the trust was experiencing a lot of difficulty with the recruitment process. Originally this payment was introduced as an incentive to registered nurses and allied health professionals. In 2006 when the recruitment problems eased the trust stopped offering the payment to the new recruits. The current statistics show that 46% of the registered nurses, midwives and nursery nurses still receive the payment.

This number represents about 18% of the trust’s 7000 staff members. However, last week the staff received letters which asked them to sign on the new contracts. According to the new contract the staff will cease to receive the monthly payment of about £40 at the end of March. Graham White, the HR director of the trust, said,  “Ceasing this payment will reduce our pay bill by around £0.5m a year and remove an inequitable situation which has been allowed to remain for too long, and based on where we are today it is the right thing to do.”   The unions have termed the move by the trust a shoddy one. Gary Palmer, who is the local GMB organizer said, he trust has not undertaken a fair process of consultation. Instead they sent out a letter intimidating employees into signing contract variations through the threat of job losses. This will not go unchallenged by the GMB and our members.”

Brighton and Sussex chief nurse, Sherree Fagge, in her latest weekly message, said that many nurses were deeply disappointed and were also upset. Sherree Fagge said, “To those of you who will be losing this payment, I am genuinely sorry, but I am afraid we do need to keep making tough decisions, in the interests of the long-term financial stability of the whole hospital.” She also apologized for not informing many of the nurses about this move by the trust until they received a formal letter. She also said, Personally, I feel very torn about the arguments for and against the withdrawal of this payment.

On the one hand the very last thing we want to do is reduce people’s pay at a time when everything else is more expensive and when everyone is working so hard. On the other hand, I am sure that the people who don’t receive this payment work as hard as colleagues who do and it cannot be fair that there are nurses working side by side, one of whom receives this supplement and one of whom doesn’t.”

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