Published: 26/09/2002, Volume II2, No. 5824 Page 6

The annual pay round for NHS staff is on hold, pending developments in the Agenda for Change talks on a new pay system.

Unions and employers usually submit evidence to the pay review bodies in September. But a Department of Health spokesperson said it had agreed with the review bodies to delay submission of evidence 'until the outcome of negotiations on Agenda for Change and any agreement on a three-year pay deal are known'.

Agenda for Change talks are now reaching a crucial stage, with an announcement of 'shadow early implementers' expected shortly, possibly to coincide with the Labour Party conference.

Consultation on an agreed new system is still scheduled for next month.

A Unison spokesperson said the union had wanted to avoid confusion between the Agenda for Change talks and the review body evidence hearings, but added: 'We will not put that off indefinitely.'

Evidence is now expected to be submitted in the second week of October.