The Treasury has now abandoned its proposal for regional pay in the NHS, one strand of the Coalition’s strategy to undermine the National Health Service. It is not clear whether this is a body swerve, or whether they’ll be back. It may be a feint: by retreating over the NHS, can they attack teachers and civil servants instead?
The challenge is still there. The Coalition will return to attack higher cost supplements in London – but that will be an interesting challenge as London health trade unions remain better organised than elsewhere in Britain.
Despite the diversion of regional pay, the NHS still remains trapped in the government’s pay freeze, aided by the dependency by health trade unions on the pay review bodies for the best part of the past 20 years and the attack on national bargaining – the Agenda for Change Agreement.
The drive to save £20 billion and get all NHS trusts to foundation trust status by 2014 is causing massive conflict. Wholesale “down-banding” of grades is taking place across the service, with an estimated 20,000 nursing posts lost or not filled. All this is set within the deliberate planned madness of the Health and Social Care Act and the drive to destroy the NHS by the use of the market. ■