Private nursing homes are set to suffer if public sector nurses in Guernsey are granted the substantial pay rise being called for by a union group, according to professionals in the industry.
The Royal College of Nursing is currently asking the States to give its nurses a “meaningful pay rise that not only keeps up with, but significantly exceeds RPI (cost of living) and will finally bring them in line with colleagues doing similar work across the States as well as across the health sector”.
However, if approved this is expected to have a significant impact on those running private nursing homes.
“The private sector already cannot compete with the remuneration packages the States offer,” said Nick Trott Director of CI Healthcare which operates three nursing homes locally. “We can’t match the pensions, loyalty bonuses, overtime rates or holiday allowances.
Although CI Healthcare has “kept pace with rates of pay” and offered a rise back in October which was “far more” than RPI, Mr Trott is concerned the business might not be able to keep up with the public sector if higher rates of pay are introduced.
“As private companies, we are subject to market forces with levels of remuneration linked to us remaining viable, so any forced pay increases will reflect in the room rates we must charge,” he added.
The Committee for Health and Social Care has backed the union’s call for a “clear plan of action” on pay for public sector nurses who are currently working “above and beyond their contracted hours” due to staff shortages. HSC is looking to create a “compelling, competitive and attractive package to recruit and retain permanent nurses”.
Pictured: Nick Trott.
“I don’t see rises in pay as the answer to the international recruiting difficulties,” Mr Trott continued. “The problem has been the euro being strong against the pound and the uncertainties created by both Brexit and the change in Guernsey Housing Laws.”
He believes private nursing homes should be protected with the possibility of a future rise in demand as attempts to keep patients in their own homes “reach saturation point”.
Mr Trott is not the only one raising concerns though, as his thoughts have been echoed by another local nursing home which would like to remain anonymous.
“Needless to say we are monitoring the situation closely and are concerned that a ten percent pay rise for public sector nurses will have a significant impact on our business,” a spokesperson for the home said.
“The private nursing homes in Guernsey are already losing experienced care staff to the public sector and has already triggered a review of our existing pay and conditions.”
The home has been in talks with other nursing home operators in the island and says it has planned discussions with HSC to discuss its apprehensions.
The issues came to light after the Royal College of Nursing released a statement, explaining how nurses in Guernsey had “lost confidence” in the States.
Back in 2017, the Committee for Policy and Resources agreed to commission an independent strategic review of the workers’ pay, terms and conditions. But the committee came back with an implementation plan recently, which has caused uproar from the union.
“The plans are vague with no solid timeframe around delivery and outcomes,” said RCN Senior Regional Officer Julie Lewers. “Understandably our members are extremely angry around the latest developments. They see it as a slap in the face as well as the final straw in their trust and confidence that their employer is really committed to sorting out nursing pay, terms and conditions.”
The union told P&R that members are “fed up of vague promises from the States,” and explained how staff shortages and an increased workload has left nurses feeling “burnt out and not valued”.
The Committee for Policy and Resources, which is responsible for public sector employment negotiations, has been in talks with the RCN up until this point.
“We’re really surprised at the comments from the Royal College of Nursing,” said a spokesperson for the committee. “Our view is that negotiations have been moving forward in good faith."
Although no agreements have been made yet, P&R is conversing with the union and said an offer is currently on the table.
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