The Government’s response to a petition calling for extra funding to cover one-off pay awards for NHS staff not on Agenda for Change has been labelled ‘disappointing’ and ‘lacking’ by the Institute of General Practice Managers (IGPM).
Today MPs have also called on the Government to revise its response saying it didn’t address the ‘request of the petition’ directly enough.
The petition called for new money so employers, such as GP practices that provide NHS services but are outside the scope of the NHS Staff Council, can pay their staff non-consolidated awards for 2022-2023, in line with the deal agreed for those on Agenda for Change contracts.
That deal, reached in May, included a non-consolidated award of 2% of an individual’s salary for 2022-23; and a one-off NHS ‘Backlog Bonus’ in recognition of staff efforts during the pandemic and in meeting current recovery targets.
However, last week the Government responded to the petition, signed by more than 17,500 people including NHS staff and patients, reiterating that ‘independent providers were not eligible to receive funding [from the Government] for the non-consolidated awards’.
It added that: ‘Independent providers remain free to develop and adapt their own terms and conditions of employment. It is for them to determine what is affordable within the financial model they operate, and how to recoup any additional costs they face’.
And it went on to say that where employers have adopted the same terms and conditions as offered on the Agenda for Change contract, ‘they should review their commissioning contracts to consider whether and how to recover any additional cost pressures they now face’.
The IGPM has written to health secretary Steve Barclay to express its disappointment with the Government’s decision, warning that providers have ‘no ability to recoup the additional costs that they face’.
It pointed out that since many of these NHS-funded services, including general practice and walk-in centres, are tied into long contracts with the health service, there is ‘no provision for remuneration to be increased in line with inflation’. And with no additional funding coming from Government, contract-holders aren’t able ‘to pass on an uplift in staff pay in line with what staff on Agenda for Change are receiving,’ the letter said.
The IGPM told Mr Barclay staff are leaving ‘in droves’ in search of better pay; recruitment is becoming increasingly difficult; and rising costs of bills, consumables, maintenance and pensions are forcing cutbacks to services.
‘What we are seeing is the degradation of these NHS-funded services,’ the letter said, adding: ‘Our patients are feeling the impact. For general practice specifically, we are seeing practice closures.’
The IGPM letter warned that in a time of increased demand ‘we cannot afford to lose staff.’
‘Funding for general practice staff pay rises has been capped at 2.1% for the last 4 years. Our staff deserve more, and this response from the government is lacking.’
Separately, the Petitions Committee – a group of MPs who oversee the petitions system – have said today that after considering the Government’s response, it feels ‘it did not directly address the request of petition’. As a result, the committee has written back to the Government to ask for a new response.
The Government’s reply will be published on the Petitions website once received, the committee said.