Ashford and St. Peter’s is making good progress on Agenda for Change (A4C) – the programme to modernise pay and conditions for NHS staff – Board members heard at the Trust Board meeting on Thursday 27th January 2005. Reporting the progress Project Lead and Assistant Director of Human Resources, Anne Edwards said: “At the end of January we moved a small group of nursing staff – around 100 – over to the new Agenda for Change pay system. We are the first Trust in Surrey and Sussex to move staff onto the new scheme.”

Agenda for Change is a new pay and reform system for all NHS staff apart from doctors, dentists and very senior managers. Its aim is to ensure fair pay and a clearer system for career progression. For the first time staff will be paid on the basis of the jobs they are doing and the skills and knowledge they apply to these jobs. The Department of Health negotiated the pay system with unions and it was agreed in November 2002. Twelve NHS sites implemented the changes early to help other NHS organisations to adopt the new system successfully. Roll-out to the rest of the NHS including Ashford and St. Peter’s started in December 2004.

Partnership working with trade unions has been at the centre of Agenda for Change. In a booklet issued to over 3,000 staff at Ashford and St. Peter’s with their January pay slips staff side lead and Clinical Site Practitioner Simon Bhadye says: “There is so much within Agenda for Change that will help us to review, improve and update the way we work. The end result should mean staff recognise there is a fairness and harmonisation throughout all our terms and conditions.”

The booklet published by the Trust sets out step by step how Agenda for Change is being implemented and how it will support more patients – treated more quickly; a higher quality of care; better recruitment and retention; improved teamwork; greater flexibility in staff deployment; better – and fairer pay; and better morale.

In the agreement reached by the Department of Health and staff side representatives improvements were made to annual leave entitlements for most staff so that depending on length of service staff can have up to 33 days annual leave a year. The anomaly whereby staff based at Ashford received London weighting and staff based at St. Peter’s did not, has also been removed. All staff working for the Trust will now receive a High Cost Area payment to reflect the additional costs of living in Surrey and on the outskirts of London.

Underpinning Agenda for Change is the ‘Knowledge and Skills Framework’ – the KSF. This recognises that all staff need training and development to become fully developed in post and to progress in their career.

Siân Thomas, Director of Human Resources, commented: “Agenda for Change is the largest employee change programme undertaken by an organisation in Europe. We have planned our implementation carefully and this is paying dividends. The Agenda for Change Project Team, our Payroll Team and all staff and managers who have had to review their job descriptions are to be congratulated on the progress the Trust has made.”

Implementation of the Agenda for Change Programme at Ashford and St. Peter’s should be completed by the end of 2005.


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