The extension of NHS services risks exacerbating physiotherapy staff recruitment problems if the Westminster government and employers fail to take an evidence-based approach and provide fair reward for working unsocial hours.
This was the message the CSP has delivered in oral evidence to the NHS pay review body on 7-day services in March.
The CSP and other unions on the NHS staff council executive, which met with the Pay Review Body on 17 March, argued that Westminster should learn from the Wales government’s approach that was clear that the aim was to improve services in a prudent manner, taking staff and their unions with them on any changes.
Many NHS workers, including physiotherapy staff, already provide services through the night and at weekend and developing 7 day services requires an evidence base and the engagement of the whole workforce, the unions told the PRB.
No evidence base
Developing such services needs a real understanding of the problem and likely benefits before it can be determined which staff and levels of specialism or seniority are required, they added.
CSP assistant director Pete Finch, who attended the meeting this week on behalf of the CSP, said:
'We made clear our strong objections to the evidence submitted by both the Department of Health and NHS Employers in England that focussed on cutting the existing unsocial hours payments for agenda for change staff rather than clarifying what services they thought should be provided or the need to improve patient safety.'
'We told the PRB that we recognise that service provision in the NHS will continue to evolve and change. But staff have suffered 5 years of pay restraint and repeated attacks on terms and conditions and the government in its evidence has once again attacked what it called the 'antiquated' system of pay progression, even though changes to progression had only been agreed and introduced two years ago and there is little evidence to suggest the new arrangements had been fully embedded across the NHS in England.'
The PRB was asked to consider that any changes to AfC would need to be negotiated through the staff council.
Pete Finch added:
'Many of our members are angrier about this issue than they were during the pay dispute last year and there are increasing signs of recruitment problems, including within physiotherapy.
'Despite what both employers and the Government say the current pay system is not a barrier to seven day services but provides a framework to ensure staff were rewarded fairly when required to provide services in the evenings, at weekends and public holidays.'
The PRB was last year asked by secretary of state for health Jeremy Hunt to 'consider the barriers and enablers within the Agenda for Change pay system for delivering health care services every day of the week in a financially sustainable way'.
The PRB is due to report to government with its recommendations in July.
The CSP had already submitted its own written evidence - use link immediately below.