NHSemployeesThe national pay deal currently being thrashed out for NHS staff will not help trusts to deal with increased costs and improve care services at nights and weekends, the Foundation Trust Network (FTN) has said, so trust-by-trust or regional pay deals should be considered.

The FTN’s chief executive Chris Hopson said that while he backed the national pay deal, it might not be the right formula to help trusts cope with current challenges. The deal would save around £250,000 a year when £11m was the target, he said, and automatic annual increments should be looked at again.

“Can the NHS continue to afford a system that gives 60 per cent of staff a 2 per cent pay increase every year,” Hopson asked, “irrespective of performance, on top of any cost of living increase?”

He went on: “Trusts now have a pressing need for the NHS to start discussing the different ways we could set pay, terms and conditions including looking at whether we should set pay nationally, regionally or trust-by-trust – exactly the same debate as the education service is now having.”

The government appeared to agree with Hopson, with health minister Dr Dan Poulter saying that patient care “lies at the heart” of this debate.

“This is why discussions have been about making a much stronger link between providing high quality patient care and annual pay progression,” he said, “with a much stronger emphasis on behaviours referenced in the NHS Constitution around compassion, dignity and respect.”