NHS staff facing radical changes in working life
12:50pm Thursday 26th September 2013 in News
RADICAL changes to pay and working conditions for thousands of Gwent NHS staff would play a major role in helping bridge huge budget gaps during the next three years, say health bosses.
An extended working week, less annual leave, reduced rates for working unsocial hours, and a cut in sick pay are among changes costed by Aneurin Bevan Health Board, which is looking for ways to save around £150 million by the end of March 2016.
Such issues are subject to a national agreement that would require change beyond health board level. But director of planning Richard Bowen told board members that if it were pursued and implemented, it could contribute up to a third (£50m) of the required savings in Gwent.
An update on the progress of a three-year plan for the health board estimates that extending the working week to 40 hours, without a pay rise, could save £22.5m over three years, while reducing premium rate enhancements for working unsocial hours – such as on Saturdays, Sundays, and Bank Holidays – could save between £6m and £11.7m.
Three-year savings on a reduction in annual leave and in sick pay cuts could total £4.3m and £2.6m respectively.
Mr Bowen stressed that the health board has been “open and honest in terms of the size of the task facing us.”
“A lot of these issues are subject to national agreements. Locally we have been having conversations with the Trades Union Partnership Forum in terms of the shaping of three-year priorities. These are some of the modelling challenges we face, not what we are immediately going to do.”
Other strategies involve restricting or stopping recruitment, changing services, offering staff voluntary early release packages, and redundancies.
Anne Phillimore, the board’s director of workforce, said the health board’s focus is on efficiency measures, though other boards had been looking at other options.
Jane Carroll, independent board member representing trades unions, said the report contains “potentially serious consequences” for staff, and the health board “needs to engage with trades unions quickly.”
Staff can see that service changes will drive workforce change, she added, but aspects of the report are a cause for concern.