Agenda for Change

Proposals to change the terms and conditions of NHS staff in England could have major implications for CSP members. Peter Finch Explains

A special meeting of the society’s industrial relations committee (IRC) is being held on 13 December to discuss proposals on changes to the NHS Agenda for Change agreement, which sets out the national deal on everything from pay to subsistence allowances.

The CSP’s first task is to decide how members should be consulted on proposals which could have major implications for NHS staff in England, including physiotherapists and physiotherapy assistants.

Background to the changes

The consultation follows a meeting of the NHS Staff Council in November at which all unions agreed to take back the proposals for consideration by their respective organisations. If agreed, these changes to the agreement would take effect on 1 April 2013.

The changes to the handbook setting out employment terms and conditions for NHS staff would only affect members in England.

The governments of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales have stated the proposals will not be introduced for staff in those countries.

Members will be aware from previous issues of Frontline that increasing numbers of employers in England have been developing proposals to move away from the national agreement.

For instance, earlier this year 20 trusts in south west England established a cartel to develop new terms and conditions for their employees, threatening to reduce their current entitlements.

Under pressure from employers – who have over the past two years been threatening to ditch Agenda for Change – NHS unions agreed to talks on the national agreement.

But this was to see if agreement could be reached based on proposals that would maintain a national agreement, preventing the fragmentation of Agenda for Change and a slide into local negotiations in large parts of the NHS in England.

What you need to do next

  • The CSP’s aim in the discussions with NHS Employers over the past few months has been to do everything we can to maintain Agenda for Change as a UK-wide agreement and minimise the risk of an increasing number of employers in England ditching the agreement and moving to local negotiations or even imposing new (and worse) terms and conditions.
  • We think it’s vital members know that their skills are given equal recognition, wherever they work in the NHS.
  • Unions have stressed the importance of trusts in the south west agreeing to maintain a national set of terms and conditions and not continue with plans to implement ‘local solutions’.
  • Further information will be posted following the IRC meeting,,including details of how and when members in England will be consulted. fl

Peter Finch is assistant director, CSP’s Employment Relations and Union Services.

What it means for you

The proposals currently on offer will mean that:

  • your pay progression through all pay points will depend on you having the required knowledge and skills and being able to demonstrate the required standard of performance for your role.
  • This enforces what is already in the original agreement but it has not generally been implemented before now
  • if you are in pay bands 8C, 8D and 9, progression into the final two pay points in the band will be earned on an annual basis
  • if your job evaluation score is over 630 points (bands 8C and above) you will be able to be moved into senior managers’ pay, as people on over 720 points (band 9) can already
  • if you are a new starter (band 5) your accelerated increment after six months will go your pay during sickness absence will be paid at basic pay and not include other allowances, such as unsocial hours payments
  • a new annex will give staff side proposals on principles which NHS organisations should follow when undertaking workforce re-profiling (including downbanding)
  • employers will agree that Agenda for Change ‘will continue to be used by NHS organisations’

To keep abreast of what’s happening, make sure to read Frontline and check for latest updates on the web site.

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