Unions Welcome Move On Cartel

Unions have welcomed a decision by an NHS Trust in Dorset to withdraw from a regional cartel of health organisations aimed at setting pay and conditions.

Officials have warned that the cartel could cut wages and employment conditions in a move away from nationally negotiated pay and other benefits.

Tony Spotswood, chief executive of the Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said:

''Following careful consideration, the Trust's board of directors has decided to withdraw from the South West Pay, Terms and Conditions Consortium.

''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.

''Can I take this opportunity to reiterate the thanks expressed by the board of directors to all staff for their continued work and unstinting commitment.''

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.''

A spokesman for the SW Consortium expressed ''disappointment'' at the decision, adding:

''The consortium was formed in order for trusts in the South West to explore together the area of pay, terms and conditions and 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.

''Whilst encouraged by recent progress on aspects of Agenda for Change, members believe that it is right and fair that any review aimed at producing fit-for-purpose pay, terms and conditions should include all staff groups, for example doctors, dentists and senior managers including chief executives.

''The remaining 19 consortium members, who represent the vast majority of NHS provider organisations in the region, are committed to investigating this area and continue to work towards delivering a full business case by the end of this calendar year, in line with our stated timescales, before it is passed to member trusts' boards for consideration.

''The Foundation Trust Network, the membership organisation for NHS public provider trusts, demonstrated the overwhelming level of support and interest among foundation trust leaders nationally in the ground-breaking work of the consortium in its comprehensive summer survey and subsequent MP briefing on the need for local pay flexibility, published last week.''