GMB activists petitioning in Swindon town centre against the introduction of regional pay in the NHS, by the consortium of 18 NHS trusts known as the “NHS Pay Cartel”, were joined by Dr Whittington, and Dr Cat, who explained that they would be off to London for higher pay, if wage rates in Swindon’s hospitals were to fall. The NHS trusts in the cartel have spoken of introducing a 5% pay cut for those on more than £21000.
The Tory Health and Social Care legislation already introduces reforms into the NHS that create a two tier health service, and general hospitals, like those in Swindon or Bath, will find it harder to recruit and retain specialist staff, as the BMA have warned. If those same hospitals also reduce pay, then serious skills shortages are likely to affect them.
Union campaigning has put the trusts on the back foot, and the NHS trusts will have been disappointed at the declining support they have received from government in the face of that campaigning. But the pay cartel still exists, and each trust paid an intial £10000 into the consultancy pool, to help devise mechanisms for making significant savings in the staffing budget. This battle isn’t over yet.