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NHS Staff on track for a 6.5% pay rise but must forfeit a days holiday

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NHS Staff are on track for a 6.5 percent pay rise over three years but must forfeit a days holiday in return.

In the coming days ministers are hoping to finalise a £3.3 billion deal to offer NHS staff a 6.5% pay rise over the next three years but with the condition that health workers forfeit a days annual leave in return.

The 6.5% rise would see the average salary for a Band 5 Staff Nurse in the UK rise from £25,653 to £27.192 over the three years – an increase of just £1539 and well below the current rate of inflation.

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During the November budget, Chancellor Philip Hammond announced plans to review and “modernise” the Agenda for Change pay structure – 14 health unions, including The Royal College of Nursing and Unison, have been negotiating on behalf of their members since November.

A successful deal would see the first significant pay rise to NHS staff in 7 years, but at the cost of a day’s annual leave. The deal is thought to be designed to help NHS trusts tackle staffing gaps through a recruitment and retention crisis. But, NHS staff survey revealed this week that 58% of staff already work additional unpaid hours.

Experts have criticised the move saying that NHS staff are already over-worked and reducing much needed annual leave would only worsen the issue.

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But, government negotiators have warned that staff working one extra day a year is “non-negotiable” and if union members refuse the offer the deal could be withdrawn.

Nigel Edwards, Chief Executive of the Nuffield Trust thinktank, told the Guardian newspaper that the NHS workforce has reached its limits:

If the government makes a proposal like that obtained by the Guardian, staff, especially those paid least, will welcome the respite from a real-term squeeze on their wages which has cost them billions. With very serious shortages of staff, government is right to conclude that an austerity approach to the NHS workforce has reached its limits.

Adding that in effect losing a day’s leave would be a pay cut of 0.4%, despite the salary increase.

Unions have confirmed that members would be balloted over any potential deal.

The NHS Pay Review Body, the independent body that advises the government on the pay of healthcare workers, has yet to issue its report for 2018-2019.

Both major nursing unions have refuted the details of the deal initially leaked by the Guardian.

The Royal College of Nursing initially declined to comment but has since made the following statement; “The RCN has been part of pay talks alongside all NHS unions. They are on-going and have not concluded. Once there is agreement in principle – and the Treasury commits to fully fund it – our members will decide if any deal is acceptable“.

UNISON’s also made the following statement; “UNISON has been leading these pay talks since December and we are close to a final position which we can put to NHS staff for consideration. However, the details in the article are incomplete, unconfirmed and inaccurate in part”.

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Nursing vacancies hit record high leaving patient care at risk

It can be “dangerous” when there aren’t enough nurses to provide care.

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Patient Falls Risk with IV

There are now a record 43,671 empty nursing posts in the NHS in England alone.

NHS figures show that there are now a record 43,671 empty nursing posts in the NHS in England alone, according to the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).

The College says a global shortage of nurses alongside the removal of the nursing bursary has compounded this figure which now sees 12% of posts through the NHS in England without a full-time Registered Nurse.

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Figures from the University and College Admissions Service (UCAS) show a 29% overall decline in applications to undergraduate courses since 2015, when the bursary was cut by the Government.

In a report released today titled ‘Standing up for patient and public safety’, the Royal College of Nursing outlines the evidence of the need for a new law that allocates specific legal responsibilities for workforce planning and supply.

A new law is needed.

The report states that in order to address the record number of vacancies, and the gap between the numbers of health and care staff needed to deliver patient care vs. how many are in the system.

Figures included in the report reveal that the number of nursing staff has consistently failed to keep up with the dramatic rise in demand for services and the number of emergency admissions.

The report finally makes a further call for legal clarity on the roles, responsibilities, as well as accountabilities, for workforce planning and supply.

In September, after pressure from RCN members, NHS England and NHS Improvement asked the Government for clarity over who is accountable for the nursing workforce.

‘Nurses are working harder than ever’.

Dame Donna Kinnair, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing said: “Nurses are working harder than ever to deliver safe patient care but are being held back by a system that is legally lacking teeth. Despite the public, patients and nurses all agreeing that clarity is needed on responsibilities for delivering enough nurses, we have yet to see any government pledge anything of the like, and as a result are staring down the barrel at a record 43k empty nursing posts.

“We know how dangerous it can be when there aren’t enough nurses to provide care, but at present, almost all accountability rests with the frontline nurse working on the understaffed ward, rather than those responsible for the system they work in.

“We believe the time has come for change and that patient care was future-proofed by law, and that from the government down, decision makers are held to account.

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NHS calls for clarity on who is accountable for the nursing workforce

Figures suggest there are around 40,000 unfilled nursing vacancies throughout the NHS in England.

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Working nurses in the CCU

Healthcare leaders are calling for legislation to be included in the forthcoming Queen’s Speech.

NHS England and NHS Improvement have called on the Government to clarify who is accountable for the nursing workforce and the chronic problems it’s currently facing.

Following ongoing pressure from nursing unions, the two organisations met today and recommend that the government should “revisit with partners whether national responsibilities and duties in relation to workforce functions are sufficiently clear.”

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With around 40,000 unfilled nursing vacancies in the NHS in England and thousands more throughout social care, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) believes the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care should be legally accountable for the workforce.

Along with other health care leaders, Dame Donna Kinnair, Chief Executive & General Secretary of the RCN, written to the Government calling for the legislation proposed by NHS England and NHS Improvement to be included in the forthcoming Queen’s Speech.

Staff shortages have reached ‘alarming levels’.

Responding to the news, Dame Donna Kinnair said: “We are pleased that NHS England and NHS Improvement has recognised the concerns of RCN members and the public and has stated that the issue of accountability for workforce planning and supply remains an area that needs be resolved.”

“In the week after we have launched a major public facing campaign calling for investment in the nursing workforce as well as for accountability to be clarified in the law, yet again, the case is made for this to be taken seriously.

“We are clear that government is well placed to determine how accountability can be clarified in law.

Adding; “Staff shortages have reached alarming levels with at least 40,000 vacant registered nurse posts in the NHS in England alone with thousands more vacancies in public health and social care.

“We now hope government will listen to this message, as well as the voices of the thousands of members that responded to the NHS England engagement process, and bring forward this legislation, taking the opportunity to include accountability in government and throughout the health and care system, for workforce planning and supply.”

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