Pay rates cut for bank nurses at Sunderland and South Tyneside hospitals as trust scraps 'premium rate'
Pay rates for bank nurses working at Sunderland and South Tyneside hospitals have been reduced.
Bank nurses working shifts at Sunderland Royal and South Tyneside District Hospital will see their hourly rate for both day and night shifts cut, South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust have confirmed.
Day pay rates for bank nurses in Emergency Departments, intensive care unit and critical care units have been reduced from £22ph (per hour) to £15.66ph, and night and Saturday rates have been cut from £22ph to £20.35ph.
However Sunday and Bank Holiday shift rates will increase from £24.64ph to £25.05ph.
Bank nurses are not employed directly by the Trust, but are assigned shifts via NHS Professionals in an agency style.
The Trust has said that it had been paying a ‘premium rate’ for bank nurses working in some departments from August 2019 until August 2020 to help fill shifts whilst there were job vacancies at the Trust.
But now the Trust has said it no longer needs to pay these higher rates after filling a number of nursing vacancies.
Melanie Johnson, Executive Director of Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professionals at South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, said:“Over the past year we’ve seen our overall nursing vacancy rate fall from 9% in August 2019 to just 3% in August 2020 which means we no longer need to pay premium rates to fill bank shifts.
"This is a very positive position for the Trust to be in and a result of our successful recruitment strategies which continue to attract more and more people to come and join us as permanent members of the trust family.“We greatly value and appreciate the efforts of all staff, including those who support us through NHS Professionals and whilst premium pay rates are thankfully no longer needed, all bank shifts will continue to be paid at the top of the pay band for nursing staff.
“Despite the challenges of Covid-19, our overall nurse staffing position is the strongest the Trust has seen in recent years, with more permanent members of staff in post there is less need for expensive additional payments to attract nurses to fill extra shifts.
"This is good news for patients and patient safety as there is much greater continuity and stability within the workforce but also means improved work / life balance for staff during these exceptionally busy times.”
The Trust confirmed that bank shifts through NHS Professionals are not classed as overtime and are optional and open to qualified staff both within and outside of the Trust to undertake.
One nurse, who worked bank shifts on an emergency department throughout the pandemic, said bank nurses like themselves would not pick up as many shifts because of the pay scale change - which they fear could lead to shortages.
The nurse, who wished to remain anonymous, said: "Nurses are no longer picking up shifts due to the pay reduction so come November, during the peak of the pandemic, the department could run short.
"The reason Emergency Department nurses were given a higher rate a few years ago was because of low staffing and winter pressures. Patients will suffer if there are less nurses willing to fill shifts if staff are ill or isolating.
"They are playing on nurses’ commitment to help.”
At Sunderland Royal Hospital, the pay changes affect the following departments: Emergency Department Adults, Emergency Department Children and ICU.
At South Tyneside District Hospital (SDH), the Accident and Emergency department and the Children’s Emergency department are among those affected.
Union UNISON said that the pay change would make wages fairer across the board for bank nursing staff.
A UNISON Northern spokesman said: “We had raised this issue earlier in the year after many of our members came to us with concerns over the disparities in pay staff received when working on the bank, with some staff qualifying for higher rates.
"It is good to see that the Trust has recognised those inequalities and staff will now be paid the top rate for each band when on bank shifts.
"Pay parity is especially important at a time like this when the NHS is under enormous strain and our members are working harder than ever.”