NEWS - PRIMARY CARE Reorganisation timetable shows revised pay guarantee

Published: 08/12/2005 Volume 115 No. 5985 Page 9

Primary care trust staff facing redundancy as a result of restructuring will get three months more protection than was planned, following lobbying by union Managers in Partnership. All staff affected by the shake-up will be paid until June 2007.

The breakthrough was highlighted in the human resources framework, published by the Department of Health last week, which sets out the timetable for closure and establishment of organisations, and the way recruitment and redundancy must be handled.

The union campaigned for protection of the PCT workforce's contracts to be extended from March to June because the reconfiguration timetable for setting up the new commissioning organisations will take longer than for strategic health authorities.

SHA staff protection will run out in March 2007 because shadow bodies are expected to launch as soon as April 2006.

Recruitment of SHA chief executives will be handled nationally by a DoH panel chaired by NHS chief executive Sir Nigel Crisp, and chairs by the NHS Appointments Commission. They are expected to be in place by April 2006.

Chairs of the new PCTs should be in place by May 2006, with the selection process for chief executives running in parallel so that chairs are able to select their chief executives from an 'accredited' shortlist in June.

The first recruitment phase for chief executives for both sets of organisations will be restricted to closed competition between existing full-time, in-post chief executives. If posts are not filled, a second phase - national for strategic health authorities and regional for PCTs - will see open competition for the posts.

National job profiles for PCT chief executives are being drawn up by the DoH, which is also expected to publish its delayed decision on the pay framework for 'very senior managers' (VSMs) this month.

The HR document says the new mandatory pay scales will reflect the 'complexity and varying size' of the new SHAs and PCTs. HSJ understands a consultancy firm has looked at VSM remuneration in the NHS compared with the private sector to ensure pay is competitive.

The framework says new PCTs must appoint a 'service development director' as part of a prescribed list of functions which must be represented at board level, such as commissioning, HR and finance.

Managers in Partnership chief executive Jon Restell said the document was a welcome positive step in an otherwise 'rushed' and 'confused' reconfiguration process. 'While our members remain angry and confused about the policy process and timetable, they welcome the open and fair appointments process, the important employment guarantees, the commitment to avoid redundancies wherever possible and the strong emphasis on partnership working with the trade unions locally, regionally and nationally, ' he said.

HR leads have been appointed to each regional 'cluster' representing the boundaries the new SHAs are expected to cover.