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NHS staff in Sussex could lose £600 bonus
More than 1,000 NHS workers are facing a pay cut as health bosses battle to save money.
The Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust is planning to withdraw an annual bonus worth up to £600 a year to save up to £600,000.
The bonus was introduced in 2001 to encourage nurses and other staff, including occupational therapists, to move to Sussex at a time when NHS trusts were struggling to recruit.
This was partly due to the high cost of living in the county compared to other parts of the country. It was rebranded in 2006 and is now called a recruitment and retention premium.
Health bosses want to remove it because they say it is no longer necessary as they have been able to appoint the staff they need.
The trust, which provides mental health and substance misuse services, has to make millions of pounds of savings every year while keeping up with a rising demand for services.
Cost of living
A spokesman for Unison said the proposal was a “hammer blow” for some of its members, adding: “These proposals come at a time when the cost of living is still rising and also alongside a two-year pay freeze.
“We recognise the trust has to meet the draconian savings target of 6% imposed by the Government but it seems totally unfair for hardworking staff to have to bear the brunt of this.
“We will be asking our members how they want to respond and also work with our colleagues in other NHS unions to decide on an overall response.”
Unions will meet next week to discuss the matter.
The trust has defended the move, saying the alternative was to put front-line jobs at risk.
A trust spokesman said: “We take the wellbeing of staff very seriously and we involve our staff side representatives in any potential changes to local terms and conditions.
“This local payment was introduced to help us with recruitment and retention of some groups of staff. We no longer face such difficulties with the groups of staff affected by these proposed changes and so in the current climate we cannot justify continuing to make this payment.
“We are ready to discuss a gradual implementation of the change to help staff affected.
Last year Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust scrapped a similar annual payment to more than 1,000 nurses, midwives, physiotherapists and others to save £500,000.
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