Hewitt fulfils commitment to NHS workers
Oct 8, 2005 - 5:51:38 AM

Thousands of staff working in the NHS are set to benefit from a new agreement that will bring cleaning, portering, catering and other similar “soft facilities management” services provided by contractors into line with the NHS Agenda for Change pay deal, Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt announced today.

The joint statement agreed in partnership between the Department of Health, relevant NHS Unions, the CBI and BSA and the new NHS Employers organisation is part of the NHS Agenda for Change programme (covering 1.2 million NHS employees) to create a modern flexible workforce that delivers better health outcomes.

From October next year, the new deal will give cleaners, porters and other soft facilities management staff working for contractors, pay and conditions no less favourable overall than the Agenda for Change pay deal, and provide for better development and training and closer involvement in NHS workforce reforms.

Interim measures have also been agreed.

* From 1 October 2005 staff covered by the agreement will receive a minimum of £5.65 an hour basic pay
* From 1 April 2006, the minimum hourly rate of basic pay will rise to £5.88 (matching the current minimum under Agenda for Change)

Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt said:

“Cleaners, porters, and catering assistants are all part of the team that delivers care to patients in every hospital, whether employed directly or through a contractor. They are key to delivering cleaner hospitals, reducing MRSA, helping patients access services and ensuring patients have nutritious meals.

“Government, unions, and private sector employers recognise that hospitals function better when there is good team working between clinical and support staff, and fair rewards irrespective of how they are employed. This deal will help ensure better services for patients in our hospitals.

“The NHS is a unique institution and this agreement demonstrates that all parties central to its success - the public sector, unions and the private sector - can work together effectively to achieve the reform of the NHS to create a modern health service”.

Dave Prentis, General Secretary of UNISON, the UK's largest union said:

"This is a great step forward towards ending the two-tier workforce in the NHS. The proposals will also avert the threat of widespread industrial action by contracted out staff across the country.

"The new £5.88 minimum wage will drive up standards and help tackle the recruitment and retention problems experienced by many hospitals. It will also give a welcome boost to staff who, as a result, will feel more valued and respected as an integral part of the NHS team. The agreement will also provide staff with better training opportunities which is very welcome."

Steve Barnett, Director of NHS Employers said:

“This is an important agreement which will make a big difference to the lives of thousands of staff who are part of the wider NHS team . They provide a crucial service and are integral to positive patient experiences.”

Norman Rose, BSA Director-General said: "Under the proposed deal announced today, private sector employers will be given the opportunity to demonstrate their ability to deliver high-quality services to the NHS through flexibility and innovation and not through cutting costs. We welcome this deal as setting the foundations for a new way forward in which we and the public sector unions can work together with NHS Trusts in the interests both of our employees and the patients whom we serve."

John Tizard, Director of Public Services at the CBI said: “We welcome this agreement and the commitment to continued reform it embodies. This agreement recognises that there are a wide range of private and voluntary providers involved in delivering health services and their staff have an important part to play in NHS reform”

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