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Agenda For Change

Volume 405: debated on Wednesday 21 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health what (a) proportion of the NHS pay bill and (b) cash amount will be available to pay weighting to staff in high cost areas under Agenda for Change. [113528]

Under the proposed Agenda for Change agreement, an additional £110 million in the first full year of national implementation will be invested in a new system of high cost area payments for National Health Service staff working in London and the fringe areas. For 2005–06, this will mean total expenditure of around £700 million on high cost area payments, including on-costs, in London and the fringe, or around 3 per cent, of the NHS pay bill excluding medical and dental staff. The proposed agreement provides scope for high cost area payments to be applied in other areas in future, where appropriate and for NHS organisations to pay recruitment and retention premia locally subject to certain criteria.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the expected cost to the Exchequer is of (a) the pay element of Agenda for Change in (i) cash terms and (ii) real terms and (b) the administration costs of the Agenda for Change process. [113529]

By 2005–06, the first full year of national implementation, the expected cost of the pay element of Agenda for Change proposals will be around £950 million in England. This includes provision for the costs associated with the proposals for additional annual leave and changes to working hours. The figure does not include annual uplifts in pay awards for the cost of living, which have been set at 3.225 per cent. as part of the "Agenda for Change" package. It is not possible to give a firm estimate of the projected administrative costs associated with implementing "Agenda for Change", but we anticipate that these costs will be outweighed by the longer-term savings resulting from harmonisation and rationalisation of current pay systems in the national health service.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what his policy is on whether there should be a second ballot of the the workforce in 2004 on Agenda for Change. [113530]

It is a matter for the National Health Service trades unions and staff organisations involved to decide when and on what questions they conduct ballots of their members. The proposed "Agenda for Change" agreement includes a partnership agreement setting out the intended benefits of pay reform for NHS patients and NHS staff and the success criteria that will be used, subject to the outcome of the unions' current consultation process, to measure progress during the "early implementation' phase. The Department is committed to working in partnership with NHS staff organisations and NHS employers to ensure that the appropriate action is taken in the event that these criteria are not sufficiently met.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health for which NHS job profiles he expects an increase in the length of the working week under Agenda for Change. [113583]

Under the Agenda for Change proposals, there is no automatic connection between a job evaluation profile and any change in the length of the working week for a post covered by that profile. The proposals include a harmonised working week of 371 hours for full-time national health service staff covered by Agenda for Change, including provisions to phase in these arrangements for staff who currently have longer or shorter hours. In broad terms, the proposals involve a phased increase in the working week for the Whitley groupings of professions allied to medicine, administrative and clerical, professional and technical staff B and speech and language therapists' assistants. A number of staff groups work unconditioned hours and there are national provisions for working hours to be determined locally for a number of staff groups. All of these will move over time to 37½ hours under the proposed agreement.The implications for staff currently on local contracts will depend on the terms of their individual contracts.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the pay bands are for the (a) clinical coders, (b) medical secretaries, (c) medical records clerks and (d) maintenance fitters (support services); and what the proposed pay bands are under Agenda for Change. [113584]

There are currently no nationally agreed payscales specifically for clinical coders, medical secretaries, medical records clerks or maintenance fitters (support services). Pay is determined either by reference to the national pay and grade structures for national health service administrative and clerical staff and maintenance staff or by reference to locally designed pay and grading structures.Under the Agenda for Change proposals, there is no automatic fit between current job title and new pay band. NHS posts will, where possible, be matched against national job evaluation profiles by comparing the duties and responsibilities of the post with those described in the national profiles.The table shows profiles that have been agreed for some medical secretary jobs, medical records clerk jobs and maintenance support worker jobs, but these profiles do not purport to cover the full range of jobs currently undertaken by staff with these job titles and further job profiles are likely to be agreed in some of these cases. A profile for a clinical coder is being produced.The table also shows the value of the corresponding basic pay bands under the Agenda for Change proposals at 2002–03 pay levels, before taking into account the proposed 3.225 per cent. pay uplifts in 2003–04, 2004–05 and 2005–06. This excludes any additional pay that staff in these jobs may receive by virtue of recruitment and retention premia.

Job profileProposed basic pay range for 2002–03
Medical Secretary£12,450 to £14,900
Medical Records Clerk£10,100 to £11,100
Maintenance Support Worker Lower Level£10,100 to £11,100
Maintenance Support Worker Higher Level£10,800 to £13,400

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many NHS employees he estimates will require pay protection under Agenda for Change; and what proportion of the workforce this represents. [113585]

Assuming no changes in the deployment of staff, we estimate that around 8 per cent. of staff covered by the Agenda for Change proposals would require pay protection. The proposed agreement includes provisions to ensure that, as soon as possible during the period of protection, there would be a review to explore whether the staff concerned could be reassigned to a higher weighted job or offered development and training to fit them for a higher weighted job.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made of the average annual increase above inflation which NHS employees will receive over the first three years if Agenda for Change is implemented. [113586]

The Agenda for Change proposals include a 10 per cent. uplift to basic pay over the three years from April 2003 to March 2006, or 3.225 per cent. in each year. The most recent estimate of annual growth in the Retail Price Index is 3.1 per cent. We estimate that the Agenda for Change proposals, if approved following consultation by staff organisations, will result in an additional increase in basic pay of 2.5 per cent. on average over the first three years, rising to 5.9 per cent. in the longer term.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how long the Government have been preparing the job evaluation profiles under Agenda for Change; and for which categories these are yet to be completed. [113587]

Children adopted from local council care in England during the year ending 31 March2,1002,2002,7003,1003,400
(as a percentage of all children looked after by local councils in England at 31 March)(4)(4)(5)(5)(6)
Children looked after by local councils in England at 31 March153,30055,50058,10058,90059,700
1 Excludes children looked after under a series of short-term placements.


All figures rounded to the nearest 100.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment his Department has made of the numbers of (a) foster carers and (b) adoptive families; and what steps his Department is taking to encourage more adoptive and foster families to come forward. [113377]

The number of children in foster placements at 31 March 2002 was 39,200. The numbers of foster carers are not collected centrally. However, the Choice Protects review is considering ways to collect this information in the future. The review is also looking at a number of issues that affect the recruitment and retention of foster carers, including role and status, training, support and rewards.The Department has also worked closely with both the Inland Revenue and the Department for Work and Pensions to introduce an appropriate tax threshold for foster carers and extend Home Responsibilities Protection to foster carers. Both changes were recently announced at the beginning of April 2003 and should encourage recruitment and retention of foster carers.

The preparation of job evaluation profiles, as an integral part of the development of the new national health service job evaluation scheme, has been conducted jointly between the United Kingdom health departments, NHS staff organisations and NHS employer representatives. The process of jointly agreeing draft profiles for publication began in November 2002 when negotiations on the proposed new pay system were concluded. There is no set target for the number and categories of profiles to be produced.