Following on from a recent HRreview story ‘ NHS staff face pay freeze, it has recently come to light that the Health service unions have rejected the proposal to freeze pay for NHS workers in exchange for a pledge not to cut jobs.

The British Medical Association (BMA) and the Royal College of Nursing joined Unison in rejecting the plan, which was proposed by NHS Employers in December and endorsed by trust chief executives.

The deal involved the suspension of incremental pay increases for all clinical and non-clinical staff for two years, in exchange for a commitment to avoid compulsory redundancies for employees earning less than £34,000 in the same period.

This would have guaranteed the jobs of 80 per cent of the NHS workforce, including most nurses, midwives, physiotherapists and administrative staff, and saved the health service £1.9 billion or 2.1 per cent of its pay bill, according to NHS Employers.

But the BMA said its consultation with members resulted in an “overwhelming” response against signing up to the National Pay Enabling Framework.

“Obviously these are difficult times and NHS staff are already working extremely hard to provide services as efficiently as possible,” said Hamish Meldrum, chairman of council at the BMA.

The Royal College of Nursing described the proposals as “illogical” and an “attack upon hard-working nurses”. It also said it was “highly sceptical” that employers at NHS organisations could deliver the promise on job security.

Unison also rejected the deal on Monday, on the grounds that individual trusts were not bound by the job guarantee and the offer was “divisive” in its exclusion of senior clinical staff.

NHS Employers said it was disappointed that unions had rejected the deal at a national level, but that the proposal “was still on the table”.