Advice line - don’t be downhearted

With NHS budgets being squeezed, employers are looking for ways to save money – and downbanding posts may be seen as a soft target. Penny Bromley offers some guidance on challenging such moves.

The CSP chalked up several victories last year by working with members to challenge NHS trusts’ attempts to downband physiotherapy roles.

Downbanding is, we believe, a short-term response to the longer-term problem of the NHS being under funded.  

Unchecked, it will ultimately lead to the deskilling of the profession and a loss of expertise, affecting both the quality and cost efficiency of services.

Though downbanding has been most severe in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are facing similar challenges.

By tracking trends over the past five years in Agenda for Change (AfC) bands we know that there has been a significant drop in the number of band 8 posts.

Though the number of band 8a and 7 posts remains stable, we believe this masks the bumping of posts downwards from 8b to 8a, for example.

The AfC job evaluation system was introduced to ensure that the NHS grading system is fair and consistent.

You can help your steward and manager by identifying what skills would disappear if it emerged that posts might be downbanded or cut entirely.

The job evaluation scheme underpinning AfC is made up of 16 factors measuring a range of job responsibilities and demands, such as the knowledge needed to perform particular roles and working conditions.

Each job is assessed against these factors and given a score, which contributes towards its AfC band.

Removing key ‘job evaluation scheme’ words from a job description, such as ‘highly specialist’, to describe the skills required for the post, does not mean the post has been downgraded.

A downbanded post must have significant elements of the role removed or changed.   

Identifying what skills will be lost if higher banded posts are cut and how this will affect the service, is the first step in fighting cuts.  Using the job evaluation scheme correctly is the next step.     

Penny Bromley is a CSP national policy officer

Penny Bromley

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