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No national solution

With public sympathy for the NHS reaching new highs, staffing unions will be in a strong position when the next pay negotiations come around.

An early win, however, was there to be made on overtime pay, after the unions got wind of some classic NHS variation in trusts’ approaches to paying staff for extra hours worked.

A document published by NHS Employers this morning said health and social care secretary Matt Hancock had been asked for a “national solution” to be reached on overtime pay during the covid-19 response.

Instead, the issue has been referred to trust leaders, who will now follow guidance agreed by 15 staffing unions and NHS Employers.

The guidance suggests temporary measures can be introduced, subject to local agreement, including an extension of overtime payments “to all groups of staff in bands 1-7”.

It does not make it compulsory, so it will be interesting to see if variation persists.

For senior staff – in bands 8 and 9 – the situation is even less clear. The guidance says: “The NHS terms and conditions of service do not provide for overtime payments to be made to staff in these pay bands; both employers and trade unions recognise this as an issue in the current covid-19 period.

“Working in partnership with local trade unions, employers may consider whether the introduction of a temporary local agreement to offer additional hours payments to staff in these pay bands would be the right approach to reward and recognise the exceptional levels of discretionary effort being undertaken.”