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Trust withdraws pay-for-pensions deal

Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust will no longer offer higher pay to nurse recruits in exchange for withdrawing from the NHS pension 

An NHS trust that offered new nurses higher pay if they opted out of the NHS pension scheme has withdrawn the deal for future recruits.

Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust in south east London has halted its scheme after an outcry from trade unions including the RCN and Unison. 

The trust, which provides mental health, community and learning disability services, recruited 93 band 5 nurses since making the offer. These recruits will still have the option to be paid a higher salary, with money which Oxleas would normally have paid into their pension. But at a board meeting last week, the trust announced that it would not be offering the deal to future recruits.

The aim, said the trust, was to improve recruitment of permanent nurses in the competitive London market, with nurse shortages particularly pronounced in mental health settings. 

Oxleas acting chief executive Ben Travis, said: 'We have taken into account the concerns raised by trade union colleagues and wish to maintain our long-standing excellent relations and partnership working with them. We set up this scheme as a means to recruit permanent staff rather than needing to rely on agency staff as we believe this improves patient care.

'It has helped us achieve this goal and we are now going to close the scheme to evaluate its impact.'

The RCN had called the deal ‘irresponsible and ill thought through’, accusing the trust of encouraging nurses to put their financial futures at risk.

Speaking this week, RCN London regional director Bernell Bussue, said: ‘It is worrying that the government’s NHS pay freeze is leading employers to explore increasingly complicated schemes like this to get the number of permanent staff they need in place.’

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