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Trust still overspends on wages despite pay freeze

22nd March 2012

NHS trusts are still overspending on wage bills, despite a pay freeze being in place.

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An investigation by HSJ showed that acute hospitals have run up an estimated £300m overspend on wage bills so far this year.

In addition, while the number of pay increments withheld from staff has doubled in 2011-12 compared with 2010-11, many employees are automatically being handed incremental rises worth on average 2.8% a year.

The journal looked at board papers of 96 trusts show and found a combined overspend on pay of £176.3m so far, which if extrapolated over all 165 acute and specialist trusts in England puts the figure closer to £300m.

Many trusts claim activity levels are preventing them from cutting their workforces as planned, as well as forcing them to rely on agency staff.

University Hospital Southampton Foundation Trust’s pay outgoings are 10% higher than it budgeted for – a £7.1m overspend – while Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals Trust’s pay bill is 8%, or £14.6m, overspent.

Some trusts have suggested that activity levels mean they are unable to reduce workforce numbers as planned.

Under the Agenda for Change pay framework, trusts are able to use appraisals to judge whether staff should be given a pay increment on top of the frozen “cost of living” allowance set nationally.

NHS Employers have confirmed that more trusts were experiencing pay bill pressures.

Meanwhile, Unite said it had little problem with employers deciding not to pay underperforming staff. However, he added that unions would resist attempts to move beyond Agenda for Change.

 

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