The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has asked for an urgent meeting with the government to discuss the two-year pay freeze for public sector workers announced in the Budget earlier this week.
The RCN said that agreeing a pay-freeze two years in advance was “short-sighted”. It also said that nurses could help managers identify areas for savings.
Josie Irwin, head of employment relations at the RCN, said the health service could make substantial savings by spending less on management consultants and by avoiding “silly” initiatives, such as re-branding hospitals. Nurses could also advise managers on improvements to working practices, she said.
“There is considerable evidence that staff engagement with managers creates a good and productive workplace.” Irwin added.
In 2007, for example, Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust saved about £20m without any job cuts thanks to an efficiency programme agreed between HR managers and unions and staff.
Some of the savings came from redeploying staff and reducing the use of agency and temporary bank staff.
“If initiatives like Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre can be replicated round the UK, the good practice will likely achieve not only the savings needed but will also retain the staff morale needed to push through reforms,” Irwin said.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Health told Personnel Today that nurses would still receive incremental pay rises by gaining extra “points” within pay bands, or by moving to a new pay band. However, the starting salary for pay bands will be frozen for two years.