• Southend University Hospital Foundation Trust staff to move to Agenda for Change contract
  • Trust’s finance director says trust hopes it will help attract and retain more staff

The last trust in England outside the national pay agreement will move over to the Agenda for Change contract, it has been announced.

Staff at Southend University Hospital FT will move over to the national pay deal from 1 April.

The trust agreed to mirror national pay rates last year and, following a Unison vote on the changes, 88 per cent of union members backed moving to the Agenda for Change contract.

The Agenda for Change pay system was first introduced in 2004, but, two years later, staff at SUHFT voted to return to locally negotiated terms and conditions. There were concerns at the time that other organisations would follow suit, but these never materialised.

Staff and unions at Southend have since become concerned they are being paid less than their counterparts at other trusts.

Last year, a deal was agreed between ministers and trade unions to reform the NHS Agenda for Change pay framework, which saw more than one million NHS staff offered an average 6 per cent pay rise over three years.

Louisa Cowell, director of finance at Southend University Hospital, said: “We are currently in the planning process for 2019-20 and this additional cost is being factored into our calculations. We are confident this move will help us to attract and retain more staff to Southend Hospital.”

Unison head of health Sara Gorton described the move as “great news” for staff at Southend and the NHS as a whole.

“Now a nurse, healthcare assistant or porter in Southend, Sunderland or Solihull will be paid the same rate for doing the same job,” Ms Gorton said.