Wage cut for Royal Free nurses delayed after staff threaten no-show

Bank nurses pay at the Royal Free will be cut over the next three years. Picture: Lynn Cameron/PA Im

Bank nurses pay at the Royal Free will be cut over the next three years. Picture: Lynn Cameron/PA Images - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Wage cuts for nurses covering sick leave and other increases in demand at Hampstead’s Royal Free Hospital have been postponed after workers threatened to cancel shifts en masse.

The Royal Free Hospital. Picture: Ken Mears

The Royal Free Hospital. Picture: Ken Mears - Credit: Archant

As revealed by the Ham&High last week, nurses on the “bank” – similar to a zero-hours system – are set to have their pay cut after a review by the hospital trust found they were earning more than their equivalents at selected trusts across London.

The reduction, of 79p an hour for band 5 staff and 91p for band 6 staff, will be phased in over the next three years. New staff will automatically get the lower rate. One nurse told the Ham&High the cut will cost her more than £5,000.

Bank nurses are workers who undertake shifts for a trust that can’t be covered by full-time workers’ regular hours. They can cover illness or extra demand for other reasons.

The delay is thought to be two to three weeks. The Royal College of Nursing is asking the trust to undertake further benchmarking against other NHS trusts. It has also asked trust bosses for a paper showing data comparisons across North Central London – the new STP (“sustainability and transformation partnership” area) covering the Royal Free.

The nurses are on contracts similar to zero-hour workers: they have no guaranteed shifts and no obligation to take the work offered to them, and don’t have employee sick pay.

Last week the trust told this newspaper that the cut wasn’t about “cutting staff pay”.

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RCN senior officer Sue Lister said: “We are pleased to have negotiated a pause to any changes to the bank rates for critical care staff at the Royal Free. The rollout that was planned to take place was being rushed through without proper discussion and was threatening to harm not only the safe staffing of vital services but also the pockets of our members.

“We will be continuing to meet with trust management on behalf of our members and are determined to ensure that decisions made around bank rates deliver the best outcome for staff and the services they work in.”

Unison has also been advising affected staff.

A spokesperson for the Royal Free Hospital said: “The trust can confirm it is still drawing up plans to bring the hourly rate paid to staff, who choose to work on its bank, in line with other NHS trusts.”