In the health White Paper published on Monday, Andrew Lansley said pay decisions should be led by employers, rather than imposed by the government.
The paper said: ‘In future, all individual employers will have the right, as foundation trusts have now, to determine pay for their own staff.
‘However, it is likely that many providers will want to continue to use national contracts as a basis for their local terms and conditions.’
But the RCN and the trade unions and have hit out against the plans, saying that it will lead to variations in pay across the country.
Howard Catton, director of policy at the RCN, said a ‘significant number of staff will be anxious’ about the plans, as many perceive the national pay deal as easy to understand and ‘fair and proper.’
He said: ‘Practically, arranging pay locally becomes more competitive; salaries go up and down in different areas and staff movement can be very destabilising.’
Meanwhile, Brendan Barber, general secretary of the TUC (Trades Union Congress), said the government’s plans will be a ‘huge hit’ to staff morale.
He said: ‘It would mean a pay bureaucracy in every hospital and GP's surgery, would hit lower-paid workers in the less prosperous parts of the economy the hardest, make the north/south divide even bigger and, if past experience is anything to go by, would see those at the top of organisations paying themselves even more.’
Editor's blog: Health White Paper begs more questions than it answers
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