NHS staff face cuts in premiums

Lisa Rodrigues, centre, has been awarded a CBE for her work in mental health.
Lisa Rodrigues, centre, has been awarded a CBE for her work in mental health.

A premium payment given to some front-line medical staff working for mental health trust Sussex Partnership could be withdrawn as part of a drive to save £13.5million.

Under the National Pay Review Body some nursing staff were paid a cost of living supplement, which became a recruitment and retention premium after a new pay system, Agenda for Change, was introduced.

Not everyone in the NHS received the payment and last year, despite opposition from UNISON, Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals dropped the premium on the grounds of equality.

There were situations where nurses on the premium were working in theatre and being paid more than specialist practioners working alongside them and doing similar work.

Now, Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust is dropping the payments over a phased period.

The Middy understands the payments amount to about £600 for each person on the scheme and that about 1,000 staff, including nurses, will be affected.

Staff will not see any change for at least 18 months. Savings would start to be made in the financial year 2014-15 and reach about £600,000 annually.

A spokesman for Sussex Partnership said: “We take the wellbeing of staff very seriously and we involve our staff side representatives in any potential changes to terms and conditions. This local payment was introduced to help us with recruitment and retention of some groups of staff.

“We no longer face such difficulties with the groups of staff affected and so in the current climate we cannot justify continuing to make this payment.

“This is part of our approach to protect services to patients and to protect jobs, the alternative would be to put more frontline jobs at risk.”

Chief executive Lisa Rodrigues said the trust needed to manage costs with “forensic attention”, whilst treating patients and their families with the utmost compassion.