The Department of Health, trade unions, NHS Employers and NHS private contractors have signed an agreement that will equalise the pay and conditions of contracted out workers in the health service.
‘Agenda for Change for NHS Contractors Staff’ has been negotiated by the parties and goes a long way towards fulfilling government’s promises made as part of the Warwick Agreement.
Many thousands of contracted out NHS staff are in line to benefit from a rationalisation of pay and conditions that had been eroded by the privatisation of services within the NHS.
As from 1 October 2005 staff covered by the agreement will receive a minimum of £5.65 an hour basic pay, while supervisors will receive a minimum of £5.93 an hour. In addition, all staff will benefit from an additional two days annual leave.
Then from 1 April 2006, the minimum hourly rate of basic pay will rise to £5.88 (£6.17 for supervisors). Those working in the London area will receive a one-off payment of £500 in inner London, £375 in outer London and £125 in London fringe areas.
The agreement covers catering, cleaning and domestic services porters, linen and laundry services, switchboard and reception services in all primary healthcare trusts in England.
Paul Kenny, GMB acting general secretary, said: “This agreement represents a great step forward for low-paid private contractor’s staff working in the NHS. This agreement is also good for the patients. It will lead to cleaner hospitals as a result of the better morale of the privatised staff that will no longer be treated as second class citizens in the NHS.”