With public sector pay and austerity still a thorny issue, one NHS trust has taken the law into its own hands.
Kingston Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has decided to award its senior staff a 1% pay rise in line with lower paid staff, in clear defiance of government guidance.
In making the decision, the trust evidently considered the potential impact on staff retention of freezing salaries across pay bands.
In a note on the decision, the trust’s papers stated that the “rationale was that in the light of the recent staff survey results and staff able to work at local trusts who would pay inner London weighting, it was thought that it would improve the retention of staff”.
Earlier this year, the government had agreed to a 1 per cent pay rise for all staff salaried below £57,069, as part of its Agenda for Change pay framework.
But the trust has now defied this decision and become the first to offer an improvement in pay to those ranked above the band 8C grade.
Staff surveys conducted last year certainly indicated that employees working for the NHS in the Kingston region were not overly enamoured with the existing situation.
Forty-seven per cent of the trust’s staff who completed the survey stated that they were either “dissatisfied” or “very dissatisfied” with their pay level.
In this context, it was deemed to much of a risk to freeze the pay of valued employees within the trust, and thus Kingston Hospital NHS Foundation Trust acted in order to retain talent.
Releasing the information into the public domain, the trust also provided data on the potential cost to the public purse.
Increasing pay for staff above the band 8C mid-point will cost the trust £22,000 this year; a relatively trivial figure considering that the trust anticipates a deficit of £8.8 million in 2015 in its overall financial figures.
A spokeswoman on behalf of Kingston Hospital NHS Foundation Trust stated: “While the majority of staff, approximately 2,250, received the nationally agreed 1% unconsolidated pay rise this year, 22 members of staff at the bands 8C mid-point and above, did not.
“To maintain good staff morale and retention within this small group of staff, and to achieve a level of equity against their colleagues, a decision was made by the trust board that staff at band 8C mid-point and above would receive a 1% pay rise for one year only.”
Managers in Partnership, the British Trades Union for healthcare managers, also welcomed the move. Chief executive Jon Restell asserted that “Kingston FT has made a wise decision in the face of increasing pressure on recruitment and retention as the economy improves”, and stated his belief that the move “is the only logical way to push back on agency and interim costs. I hope and believe that others will follow Kingston FT’s example.”