Union chiefs launch campaign

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A NURSES union has launched a campaign against regional pay in the North East.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Northern has written to all Trusts across the region challenging them to reject the regional pay model currently being considered by NHS Trusts across the south west.

The North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the University Hospital of Hartlepool and the University Hospital of North Tees, in Stockton, is among those to be written to by RCN’s regional director Glenn Turp.

Union bosses say they believe regional pay is divisive, unfair, more expensive for local employers to implement, and bad for the local economy.

Bosses at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust say they have had some discussions regionally about reviewing terms and conditions but say they are still waiting on the result of national negotiations.

The RCN Northern Region has also called on all of its members to write to their local MP, as part of the campaign.

In the letter, Mr Turp said: “You will be aware of the recent formation of an NHS Trust cartel in the South West region.

“The twenty NHS Trusts in the South West of England are in discussions about reducing annual leave, increasing working hours and attacking other terms and conditions across the region.

“We believe this represents a large-scale move away from nationally agreed-upon terms and conditions.

“At present, we have Agenda for Change, a national pay structure for the NHS.

“This system has some variations, such as London weighting, but it essentially means that any two nurses on the same grade are paid the same wage, no matter where they work in the country.”

He goes on to explain that the RCN believe Trusts would be forced to compete against each other for staff driving up health inequalities and that “driving down the pay” of thousands of public sector workers would increase problems with growth in the current economic climate.

A spokesperson for North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust said: “We have had some discussions as a region about reviewing terms and conditions.

“These discussions have come about because national negotiators haven’t, as yet, been able to conclude their negotiations.

“We very much hope they will resolve these matters nationally.

“In the meantime we are looking at suggestions on changes to terms and conditions made by our own staff as part of our £40m challenge.”

The £40m challenge aims to cuts costs within the organisation from its £260m budget over a three year period.