A radical streamlining of the system for paying NHS staff has not resulted in the promised £1.3bn of savings, according to the Commons Public Accounts Committee.
Introduced three years ago, Agenda for Change covers 1.1 million staff in England, excluding doctors, dentists and senior managers.
It pledges to boost staff training and development as well as streamline the system – but this has not happened, says a National Audit Office (NAO) report.
It says: “Agenda for Change has not yet brought about service-wide changes in the ways in which staff work, despite the new pay system having been in place for nearly three years.”
The system has been defended by Health Minister Ann Keen, who says that “we do not agree with the conclusion that there is no evidence of increased productivity”.
She points to the “major achievement” of transferring 1.1 million staff to a “better, fairer pay system” within a “very short timescale”.
She adds: “Agenda for Change has made it easier to define new roles, including advanced practitioners and nurse consultant roles, and pay them appropriately for the extra responsibility.”
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“I don’t think I ever believed this would save money but it has streamlined the very complicated system that was in place previously. It is very much easier to evaluate and identify the right pay scale for an individual role now. The sickness and annual leave entitlements are so generous, though, that many GP practices shy away from adopting the whole system because of the expense” – Name and address withheld