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BMA welcomes trusts' exit from pay cartel

The BMA has welcomed news that five NHS trusts have severed ties with a consortium considering a move to regional pay.

The South West Pay, Terms and Conditions Consortium, which originally consisted of 20 trusts, presented its final recommendations on terms and conditions to member boards last month.

Its report suggests a shift in the consortium’s desire to move to regional pay in south-west England. However, it also says it would reconsider a regional approach if national negotiations on pay, terms and conditions were not considered compatible with its aim of fit-for-purpose terms and conditions.

The member trust boards have since been considering the report to determine their future relationships with the consortium and the extent to which they will try to implement its recommendations.

Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust, Dorset Healthcare University NHS Foundation Trust, Dorset County Hospital Foundation Trust, Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust and Yeovil District Hospital NHS Foundation Trust all announced they were breaking ties with the group after holding board meetings this month.

Pay cuts not the answer

The Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust withdrew last year.

BMA consultants committee chair Paul Flynn said: ‘We welcome the fact that so many trusts seem to be withdrawing from the consortium. However, we remain concerned that some of the trusts in the area are still focusing on cuts to staff pay and terms, as if this were the only way to improve efficiency.’

The BMA and other health unions, including the Royal College of Nursing and UNISON, have refused to negotiate with the group, which they branded a ‘pay cartel’, and insisted that national terms and conditions must be maintained.

Former consortium steering group chair Chris Bown, who has stepped down since the work of the group has concluded, said: ‘Sovereignty in decision making regarding consortium matters has always rested with member boards.

‘Recommendations made within this report will be taken forward using existing channels and networks.’