Proposals for a regional NHS pay agreement which critics say is tantamount to a cartel aimed at suppressing wages have been subject to further condemnation.
Former Labour health minister and Exeter MP Ben Bradshaw and trade unions have expressed major concerns about the South West Pay, Terms and Conditions Consortium.
So far, a total of 16 organisations – including hospitals in Exeter, Plymouth and Truro – have board approval to sign up to the agreement, which unions warned could result in a 15 per cent pay cut for workers.
Mr Bradshaw said he would be raising the subject with Health Secretary Andrew Lansley and with his local NHS organisations.
“Hard working NHS staff have already seen pay freezes and these plans risk hitting morale badly,” he said.
“The last Labour government introduced a fairer national pay structure in the NHS – Agenda for Change – which boosted morale and helped recruitment and retention.
“Moving away from this national agreement will put that progress at risk.
“I’ve already had several calls, emails and letters from worried Exeter NHS staff about the potential impact.
“Even this Government, which says it wants to introduce regional pay, has shied away from formally endorsing the idea.”
A Unison spokesman said: “We’ve seen internal documents which provide evidence that this South West pay cartel has been formed to achieve a collective breakaway from Agenda for Change national terms and conditions.
“The aims of the cartel are to significantly reduce each trust’s pay bill by directly cutting pay and conditions by up to 15 per cent.”
A spokesman for the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, one of the organisation to sign up to the consortium, said it was being established in response to the “serious financial and operational challenges” facing the NHS.
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