Plans to set up a pay cartel across 16 hospital Trusts in the South West, will damage patient care and drive down pay, warned UNISON, the UK’s largest union today. The move also threatens the future of on-going national negotiations on changes to Agenda for Change – the NHS pay bargaining system.

More than a hundred health workers plus supporters will be protesting outside Poole Hospital Foundation Trust at 1.00pm today (21 June) – a key player in the setting up of the cartel. The Chief Executive of Poole Hospital Trust Chris Bown, is chair of the cartel steering group, as well as holding its finance.

The protest is being led by Christina McAnea, UNISON Head of Health, she said:

“The setting up of this pay cartel is a crude attempt to drive down wages, which in turn will damage the quality of patient care in all sixteen trusts. Nurses, healthcare assistants, porters, cleaners, occupational therapists – all health staff deserve better. Patients across the South West deserve better. The cartel will lead to shortages of key staff who will vote with their feet and move to hospitals where the pay is better and patients will be the ones who suffer.

“Cutting wages of hospital workers will also have a knock-on effect on already depressed economies in the South West. Health workers are already suffering from a two year pay freeze and this further assault on their pay and conditions will hit morale as well as their spending power.

“We do not want rogue employers threatening to undermine the stability of national pay bargaining and Agenda for Change. It is not too late for those sixteen trusts to do the right thing by their patients and staff and drop this damaging and divisive plan.”