HOSPITAL bosses are set to feel the heat of opposition to a controversial pay consortium.

Staff at Dorset County Hospital are angry that it is one of 20 trusts from across the South West to have joined a cartel reviewing employee pay, terms and conditions.

Union members are now set to lobby members of the hospital’s board as they head into one of their regular meetings.

They will be outside the Children’s Centre from 8.30am tomorrow before addressing the board at the meeting, which starts at 9.30am.

Unions involved include Unison South West and the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).

Unison claims the proposals being considered by the pay cartel could see staff hit with a pay cut of up to 15 per cent, which would come on the back of several years of pay freezes and rising workloads.

It is calling on Dorset County Hospital bosses to pull out of the consortium with immediate effect.

Local Unison representative and chairman of the staff-side trade unions at the hospital, Chris Gover, said: “Our members are lobbying the trust board now because the future of the NHS in the South West is in their hands. “We need to ensure that the board are aware of the risks they are taking with Dorset County Hospital and the health service.

“There is clear evidence that introducing regional pay is wasteful and time consuming. “Moreover, national negotiations are at a critical stage but are being undermined by the cartel’s very existence, precipitating the threat of regional pay.”

A petition signed by 1,000 employees has already been presented to the trust while the RCN and British Medical Association have both spoken out against the consortium.

Mr Gover said: “Cutting pay, destroying morale and forcing nurses, midwives, doctors and other healthcare workers to leave Dorset or find other jobs will harm patient care and undermine the trust’s performance in every way. “Ultimately every one of us, whether we work in the NHS, have children or relatives who need the NHS, or are patients ourselves, will lose.

“We are asking directors to recognise the true value of their staff and the services they provide. We are asking them to remember that their duty is to their local people, communities and businesses by voting to pull out of the cartel immediately.”

Executive Pledges No Departure From National Work Conditions

Director of workforce and human resources at Dorset County Hospital Mark Power said the board had responded to a request from Unison to speak at its meeting and the trust will respond to a number of questions regarding the pay consortium.

He added: “This trust, like every other in the country, still faces significant financial challenges and it is the responsibility of the board to consider all possible options for containing or reducing operating costs (both pay and non-pay) and achieve greater efficiencies. In doing so, our overall aim is to protect patient services and future staff employment as far as possible. “For this reason, it is considered appropriate to remain a part of the consortium, at least until such time that firm proposals are put forward by its working group.”

Mr Power stressed that no proposals had yet been put forward and said there may well be some ‘more generous arrangements’ than the national pay model.

He added: “It is disappointing that the national and regional trade union bodies continue to raise the anxieties of staff by suggesting the trust is planning a wholesale departure from the national terms and conditions – this is simply not true.”

Mr Power said it will be up to the board whether to implement any proposals put forward by the consortium and it will consult with staff before doing so.