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Thursday 23 November 2017

MiP Summit: Stevens calls for extra money for NHS pay

By Craig Ryan

Forcing NHS organisations to fund staff pay rises from existing budgets would be "an own goal of the first magnitude", NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens told delegates in in his opening speech at MiP's Summit.

Speaking three weeks before Chancellor Philip Hammond's conditional promise to fund pay rises for most NHS staff, Stevens warned ministers that "they have some big choices coming up over the next year or two" on pay and NHS funding. "It's very important pay rises for the NHS are properly funded rather than in some sense having to be offset by other parts of what we're doing. That would be an own goal of the first magnitude," he said.

In his Budget on 22 November, Hammond subsequently agreed to find extra cash for pay rises above 1% for Agenda for Change staff, if NHS employers and unions can agree on pay reforms.

Managers "lead the charge"

Thanking MiP members "in advance" for their efforts in what was expected to be "a highly pressured winter", Stevens urged NHS managers to "lead the charge" in tackling the big workforce challenges – including dealing with staff shortages, encouraging diversity and improving employees' mental health.

The focus of operational management was shifting towards "collaborative working" and away from the competitive model which has predominated for the last 25 years, Stevens said. "Senior leaders and boards will need to accept responsibility not just for their own institution but also to work more collaboratively in partnership with a range of other organisations in their area."

Healthy workplaces

Citing evidence from the 2016 NHS staff survey, which found that 37% of staff were experiencing work-related stress or mental health problems, Stevens pledged better financial incentives for employers to promote healthy workplaces, and action to meet the standards set out in the independent review of workplace mental health by Lord Stevenson and MIND's Paul Farmer.

"I'm calling not just on MiP but the whole trade union staff side to work with NHS Employers, NHS England and NHS Improvement to formulate a detailed action plan," he explained.

Stevens, who co-chairs the NHS Equality and Diversity Council, said it was now time to consider "explicit" recruitment goals or targets for black and minority ethnic staff to improve workforce diversity, particularly at senior levels.

He also said newly "differentiated incentives" might be needed to get more people to work in some parts of the country, and in specialities such as child and adolescent psychiatry, learning disability and general practice, where skill shortages were most acute.

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