Former HR chief says three-year pay offer is ‘good deal’ for NHS

The multi-year pay deal offered to nurses and other workers is a “good deal” for the NHS, according to its former HR chief.

Andrew Foster, who had a five-year spell as workforce director-general before leaving in May 2006, said he hoped staff would recognise reaching a three-year deal worth 8% was an achievement.

“In an era of relatively low inflation all pay deals look unexciting,” he told Personnel Today. “On the whole, it is a good deal for the NHS and I congratulate all involved on reaching this sensible compromise.”

Foster, who helped broker a similar pay deal in 2002, is now chief executive of Wrightington, Wigan & Leigh NHS Trust. He said the three-year agreement would give employers the ability to plan ahead with certainty.

However, he warned that the above-inflation nature of the first year of the deal might prove problematic for some trusts.

“After last year’s staged pay award many employers would have been expecting a figure closer to 2% for 2008-09, so a figure of 2.75% will create affordability problems,” he said.

The two largest health service unions, Unison and the Royal College of Nursing, are set to recommend the deal to members. Other smaller unions such as the GMB and the Royal College of Midwives have been less enthusiastic.

Mike Griffin, HR director at Kings College Hospital NHS Trust, said: “The deal provides a significant period of certainty for cost planning purposes that will enable managers and staff to concentrate their attention on improving health outcomes, patient services and trust efficiencies.

“From an HR perspective it send out a positive message to existing and prospective staff which can only assist recruitment and retention.”

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