NHS hospitals trust leaves South West pay consortium

The Royal Bournemouth Hospital
Image caption There are 19 NHS trusts remaining in the South West consortium

A hospitals trust in Dorset has pulled out of a consortium that aims to create a regional pay system for NHS workers in the South West.

The South West Pay Terms and Conditions Consortium, set up in June, says a regional instead of national approach could protect jobs and care standards.

Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said it decided to withdraw from the scheme.

There are 19 trusts remaining in the regional consortium.

Unions welcomed the trust's decision to support national pay negotiations, calling the consortium a "cartel" which would lead to pay cuts and longer hours.

Tony Spotswood, chief executive of the Bournemouth and Christchurch trust, said: "Following careful consideration, the trust's board of directors has decided to withdraw from the South West Pay Terms and Conditions Consortium.

Trust merger

"The board is encouraged by the progress made in the national negotiations and wishes to see these continue as we strive for pay, terms and conditions that fully reflect the needs of the service going forward."

Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is in the process of merging with Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

Mr Spotswood said: "The reason we have taken the decision to come out is that it's proving a significant distraction to staff in relation to the merger that we are going forward with at this time."

The consortium admitted they were "disappointed" to learn the trust had decided to leave.

A spokesman said: "The consortium was formed in order for trusts in the south west to explore together pay, terms and conditions. Specifically, the role they may play in supporting trusts to be sustainable organisations, better able to guarantee services and employment in the face of unprecedented challenges.

"The remaining members continue to work towards a full business case by the end of the year."

The GMB union's national officer for the NHS, Rehana Azam, said: "If this is the final decision from the Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust I am really pleased and welcome this.

"I hope the other NHS trusts in the South West follow their example.

"Regional pay would lead to lower pay for NHS staff in the regions. It is bad for NHS staff, bad for patients and bad for the local economy."

Christina McAnea, Unison's head of health, said: "This is the right decision and good news for patients and staff.

"We hope that other trusts in the South West cartel will also review their involvement in the consortium. Unison will work with them to address the serious financial issues they are facing."

The South West consortium is due to advise its member trusts on options for change before the end of 2012.

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