Off-sick Manchester hospital staff to lose pay rises

Staff at Manchester hospitals who take more than an agreed number of days off sick are to lose out on annual pay rises.

Central Manchester University Hospitals Trust will refuse rises to workers who have taken more than 18 days off sick or had four separate sick absences.

The trust said it needed to save £120m by 2014 in order to safeguard jobs after government spending cuts.

The Unison union said the measure would be in breach of workers' contracts.

A trust spokeswoman said: "In order to protect the development of our services and safeguard the employment of our staff, we need to increase our productivity and efficiency to ensure that we can continue to deliver quality clinical services while making financial savings of around £30m for each of the next four years."

She said that the decision would be discretionary and would not be applied to people with long-term illnesses or those with disabilities.

The new policy is to be introduced on 1 October.

Health workers' union Unison said it would take legal action on behalf of affected staff.

A spokesman said: "There is nothing in existing contracts that says staff can be denied annual incremental rises on grounds of taking too many sick days.

"We are appalled by this as they are treating the people whose job it is to look after the sick and vulnerable of our society in a shocking way.

"We are going to have infection-carrying staff dragging themselves into work to pass on their illnesses to patients.

"We will fight each case on our members' behalf, through the courts if needs be, meaning that the NHS will be spending money defending justified legal action when it should be spent on front-line services."

Annual NHS sickness levels are 10.7 days a year per employee, which compares to the public sector average of 9.7 days and the private sector average of 6.4 days.

It is estimated that the NHS loses 10.3 million working days annually due to sickness absence, costing £1.7bn a year.

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