Medway trust shelves idea of stopping sick pay for AfC staff who decline the flu jab

NHS trust accepted sick pay changes would 'not have been in the best interests of staff'
flu vaccine is administered

NHS trust accepted sick pay changes would 'not have been in the best interests of staff'

Picture: Tim George

An NHS hospital trust has dropped a suggestion that it would withhold sick pay for nurses who decline the flu jab, after unions condemned it.

A joint statement from six health trade unions claimed Medway NHS Foundation Trust in Kent had planned to refuse sick pay for the first three days of any staff absence and all sick pay for anyone absent with flu who has declined vaccination.

Unions claim the trust had also wanted to end six months' unbroken sick pay in favour of a system of alternate months of full and half pay for those on long-term sick leave. The trust has described union claims as inflammatory.

The employer has now told Nursing Standard there will be no moves to withdraw sick pay. It said ideas were discussed at a meeting with unions last month, as is 'normal procedure and an important way of obtaining feedback'.

'Nurses are human too and will inevitably get ill'

Daniel Heppell, RCN representative

Medway NHS Trust deputy chief executive James Devine said: 'Following further consideration and discussions with trust staff, a decision was made by the executive team that the trust would not pursue any changes to sick pay. It was felt they would not be in the best interests of staff.'

The RCN, Unison, Unite and other health unions had all challenged the plans.

RCN officer for Kent Daniel Heppell called the plan ‘naïve and simply not thought through’, adding that ‘nurses are human too and will inevitably get ill’. Unite regional officer Kathy Walters told Nursing Standard the proposal would have left staff having to choose between putting patients at risk of infection and feeding their families.

She criticised the trust for trying, as she sees it, to force staff to accept the flu jab when they may have religious or philosophical grounds for declining it.

Theatre rota proposals

The trust remains in discussions with unions and arbitration service ACAS over a change to operating theatre rotas.

In other news