NHS pay gets radical overhaul

NHS
staff will receive a 10 per cent basic pay increase over three years as part of
the most radical reform in the service’s 54-year history.

A
new NHS minimum wage of £10,100 a year is to be implemented, and the starting
salary for newly-qualified nurses would rise to £17,000.

Health
Secretary Alan Milburn said pay in return for modernisation was "a fair
deal for NHS staff and a good deal for Britain’s NHS".

The
package was announced after successful talks between UK health departments, NHS
employers and 17 staff-side organisations. The proposed deal will now go out
for consultation – if approved, it will be tested in 12 NHS sites from spring
2003, with a view to putting it in place nationally from October 2004.

The
modernisation of the pay system would mean that:


the opportunity of extra pay will encourage staff to take on new
responsibilities, giving patients faster and better services


there will be a minimum wage in the NHS of £10,100 per year or £5.16 per hour


nurses, therapists and health care assistants will be able to take on new
roles, freeing up doctors’ time for direct patient care


there will be clearer rewards for working unsocial hours, so services are more
widely available to patients in the evenings and at weekends


local employers will be able to pay more in high cost areas


progression up the pay scale will not be automatic but will depend on knowledge
and skills. The current system with almost 650 different grades will be made
much more simple

After
four years of negotiation, the proposed deal heralds the most radical
transformation of the NHS pay system since it was founded in 1948.

Milburn
said: "In essence it is about paying more to get more, so that staff who
take on new responsibilities get extra rewards."

By Paul Nelson

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