Pay cuts could jeopardise national IT programme

NHS organisations could face difficulties if IT staff decide to leave following a poor evaluation of their job roles in the...

NHS organisations could face difficulties if IT staff decide to leave following a poor evaluation of their job roles in the Agenda for Change pay review, experts have warned.

The review is due to be implemented nationally in October and IT staff are concerned they could effectively face pay cuts because Agenda for Change aims to put higher value on clinical and public-facing roles than other NHSstaff. One IT professional at an organisation trialling the new pay scheme said it was creating poor morale in the IT department.

Paul Goss, director at health IT analyst Silicon Bridge Research, said, "Existing IT staff remain terribly important. In the end, if those people decide to retire or go off to do other things, it will leave the NHS vulnerable."

Getting IT staff engaged in the national programme applications at a local level is essential to its success because of their knowledge of local clinicians and health organisations, Goss added. "There is no substitute for the person that walks the corridor. New suppliers will have to go through an induction process - if there is nobody there to induce them, then the job stops," he said.

Last week Computer Weekly revealed that Agenda for Change early implementer City Hospital Sunderland NHS Trust had delayed a full roll-out because of the number of staff facing pay cuts.

This week the trust said it remained committed to the process. A spokesman said, "Postponing the transfer of some staff is a precautionary measure to ensure that the process followed has been as robust as possible."

Tony Eardley, chairman of health careIT managers group Assist, called for more consultation on the impact of Agenda for Change on IT staff salaries.

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