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Embargoed 00.01 Monday 19th Sat 17th May 2003

For attention news desks/health editors

NHS Union votes overwhelmingly to support Agenda for Change.

Amicus MSF members have voted by 79 to 21% in a postal ballot, in favour of moving the Agenda for Change agreement on to the next stage of pilot implementation. Agenda for Change is the new pay and grading structure on which the future of the NHS depends.

Roger Lyons, Amicus Joint General Secretary, said ” I am delighted that the members of Amicus in may professional areas of work throughout the NHS have showed their confidence in the negotiations which have taken 4 years to “conclude”. We shall vote next year to decide whether the agreement has by then resolved outstanding areas. We can now get down to testing the system and developing it further for full implementation throughout the UK in October 2004.

It is important to note that Alan Milburn has committed foundation trusts to the application of the structures agreed through Agenda for Change”. Roger Spillar, Amicus Head of Health, said: “Many of the small minority who opposed continuing did so because of simple fear of the unknown, still retaining cynicism developed over many failed promises from the past. It really looks as if this initiative can improve recruitment, retention and provide the patient with a quality service, which the staff are anxious to provide. If we can continue to work in partnership with the Department of Health, we shall together succeed in providing pay and grading for over 1.2 million NHS staff who in the past have been underpaid and lacked respect.

The new arrangements will provide for equal; pay for equal value and a “skills escalator” to train and educate staff to develop their full potential regardless of their starting point.”

Note for Editors.

A 42% return of ballot papers is considered to be high for a trade union postal ballot.Amicus has a total of 70,000 members in the NHS and other Health staff in private sector or self employed. Amicus represents, Community and Theatre Nurses, Doctors, Speech, Language and other Therapists, Clinical Psychologists, Psychotherapists, Health Care Scientists, Pharmacists, Chaplains, Health Advisors, IT specialists, managers and works staff.

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