Unions have agreed a draft proposal to reduce terms and conditions for NHS staff under which staff earning more than £54,500 could be removed from the Agenda for Change framework.

The plan was agreed last Friday by union leaders at a meeting of the NHS Staff Council Executive, which also features NHS Employers.

The document will be taken back to each union’s executive committee for consultation.

A signed deal is far from certain with at least one organisation, Unite, threatening industrial action over the plans.

The proposal, if ratified, will apply only to NHS workers in England and will be an appendix to the original Agenda for Change agreement.

It would see the end of automatic incremental pay rises for Agenda for Change staff. Workers would need to meet required performance standards set by the employer in consultation with the staff side and informed by national guidance in order to get their pay rise. Guidance on these standards would be published along with the proposals after any deal is done.

Enhanced out-of-hours sick pay would also be lost, except by those with work related injuries or diseases. The possible inclusion of staff on maternity leave is being investigated.

Employers have also successfully included plans to potentially remove staff at the most senior pay bands from Agenda for Change. This would include those on bands 8c, 8d and 9 who earn from £54,454 to £97,478. Under the plan trusts could chose to pay local “spot salaries” to these staff.

Plans to also remove band 8b staff from the framework were abandoned after what one source said was a “pitched battle” between employers and unions.

Band 5 staff - such as newly qualified nurses - will no longer receive their preceptorship payments, which currently see them receive two pay rises in their first year.

But unions have told HSJ for any deal to be successful NHS trusts would need to commit to Agenda for Change. A growing number of trusts, including 20 in the South West are considering breaking away from the national framework.

Gill Bellord, director of employment relations at NHS Employers, said: “Following publication of our proposals on 25 June we have continued to involve employer representatives, including employers in the South West, on progress.

“We all know discussion about terms and conditions can be challenging, yet significant progress has been made. All parties recognise the value of partnership working and will continue to work together to ensure that national terms and conditions remain sustainable for the future, fit for purpose and fair to staff.

“We now look forward to a positive outcome to the trade union consultation.”

Unison head of health Christina McAnea, the staff side chair, said: “All of the staff council unions have agreed to take the proposals back to their executives. The unions’ main objective is to defend and maintain a national terms and conditions agreement which can deliver for patients, staff and employers.

“We hope this will enable those trusts, including those in the South West, to commit to the national Agenda for Change agreement.”