The essential stories and talking points in the NHS

Pay deal reached

More than 1 million NHS staff are set to be offered an average 6 per cent pay rise over three years from next April, after ministers and trade unions agreed a deal to reform the Agenda for Change pay framework.

While the deal will see reform of increments that staff receive, it will not include any reform of out of hours enhancements for weekend and evening work.

These had been a key target for ministers during the junior doctors’ contract dispute and were thought to be a focus for AfC. However, NHS Employers chief executive Danny Mortimer told HSJ this “was not a shared priority” for employers and unions. “Other things were more important to achieve. The pay we have got is funded; trusts were not looking to save money in terms of unsocial hours and that wasn’t part of the brief we had,” he said.

The agreement will be fully funded by the Treasury at a cost of more than £4.2bn.

Staff will be offered an average pay rise of 3 per cent backdated to April this year, followed by 2 per cent in 2019 and 1 per cent in 2020.

The deal will be subject to approval in ballots of staff but is expected to be recommended for acceptance by all the major trade unions.

Plans for staff to give up a day’s annual leave have been dropped but increment pay points will be reformed with fewer pay bands, removing overlapping pay bands and creating larger, more consistent spacing of increment pay points.

Trust’s special day

Congratulations to Princess Alexandra Hospital Trust, which has exited special measures less than a year after new leadership was brought in.

It had been rated inadequate since October 2016 when it was first placed in special measures.

Lance McCarthy took over as chief executive of the trust last May having previously worked at Hinchingbrooke Health Care Trust, which he also led out of special measures.

He told HSJ that the improvement at Princess Alexandra was partly due to a change in culture.

Mr McCarthy said: “It was a very closed culture before and we are now hoping staff can raise concerns when they are risks not problems.”

He also said the non-executives were more “effectively challenging” the trust’s board.

“The NHS had a bit of a language of its own. You’d be surprised at the number of meetings I sit in where the word patient isn’t mentioned at all,” he told HSJ.

Chief inspector of hospitals Professor Ted Baker added: “Our inspectors found a dedicated staff at the trust who had worked hard to ensure improvements were made.”