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GMB Response to Government Consultation on a separate pay spine for Nurses

Published 12th April 2024 by GMB EMAS

GMB has responded to the Government’s Consultation on introducing a separate pay spine for Nurses in the NHS to warn that this is not the solution to the difficulties staff in the NHS are experiencing.

GMB does not believe that the Agenda for Change (AfC) pay structure is creating issues for nurses alone. To divide the workforce at a time of low staff morale, burnout and staffing shortages would prove to be divisive and damaging.

Agenda for Change needs some structural reform – for the benefit of all professions, not just nursing. Investments of finances and resources would be best used to work with the NHS Staff Council to reform AfC for the benefit of the entire workforce. AfC powers and functions, which exist in theory, do not apply in practice. Examples include the application of national recruitment and retention premia, and reform of the antiquated High-Cost Area Supplement system. If reforms were made in these areas, then occupational shortages could be better addressed. The correct mechanism for this reform would be via the NHS Staff Council. Dividing the workforce into separate pay structures for certain professions would be damaging to the remaining workforce at a time when retaining existing staff is crucial.

GMB has engaged with the recent review of the whole suite of ambulance service profiles and is currently engaged with the on-going review into nursing and midwifery profiles. GMB has concerns that access to job evaluation reviews for staff in lower bands has resulted in many staff performing duties at levels above their pay grade. Failure to implement the job evaluation scheme appropriately not only hinders career progression for many occupation groups, but it also leaves the NHS vulnerable to potential equal pay claims.

GMB, as an Executive Union on the NHS Staff Council, is also supportive of that additional submission, which details key points which could be a barrier to career progression and personal development: time and access to training due to staffing shortages and operational demands; pay structural issues which have removed the financial incentive from progressing (base pay, unsocial hours enhancements, overtime); and lack of capacity resourcing of the job evaluation scheme.

Find out more here.

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