If the pay banding system is broke, let’s fix it

Rebanding of all jobs covered by Agenda for Change would be a major task, but nurses deserve a pay system that cannot be abused when times are tough, writes Graham Scott.

The way nurses are placed in pay bands has always been contentious. Some of you will remember the introduction of the old clinical grades, which over time fell into disrepute and had to be replaced.

Inevitably, a similar problem has afflicted the band 1-9 system introduced 12 years ago under the banner Agenda for Change.

As RCN activists discussed at the college’s annual congress last week, under both systems cash-strapped employers have gradually reduced the number of staff on higher pay bands and made it harder for staff to progress.

Numbers dwindle

Nowadays that means band 5 nurses taking on additional roles and responsibilities, but not seeing this reflected in their pay packets. Meanwhile the number on higher bands dwindles.

The upshot is that nurses are not being paid fairly for the level at which they are working. An RCN survey found that 39% of respondents did not feel they were banded correctly.

Following the congress debate in Liverpool last week, the RCN’s governing council has been charged with lobbying for a systematic rebanding of all NHS jobs covered by the Agenda for Change agreement. There would be a knock-on effect for those in the independent sector.

Fair system

A national rebanding exercise would be a major undertaking, but putting pressure on the government on this issue will help press home the point that nurses are fed up with being taken for granted.

All that nurses are demanding is a fair pay system that cannot be abused when times are tough.

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