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Patients ‘may not benefit from NHS pay reform’

30th July 2007

The Kings Fund has warned that if there are not changes in the productivity and working practices of nurses and other healthcare workers, patients will not benefit as intended from recent NHS pay reforms.

In its Realising the Benefits? Assessing the Implementation of Agenda for Change report, the independent foundation explored the impact of the new pay system for nurses and other NHS staff introduced in December 2004.

Following case studies of ten NHS trusts and extra interviews, the report claims that the new pay structure was “rushed” and surpasses all initial estimates of its cost, while transformation to the new system became “an end in itself” for some managers, rather than a means to providing improved care to more patients.

Niall Dickson, chief executive of the King’s Fund said: “Agenda for Change was intended to modernise more than a million NHS jobs and improve patient care.”

“However, this limited but important study shows that as yet there are few signs it has delivered increased productivity or transformed practice and there is evidence that many staff are far from satisfied by the process.”

He added that, given the vast amount of public money spent on this transformation, the absence of independent evaluation of the reform was of considerable concern and indefensible.

Last week, the King’s Fund commented on the government’s GP patient satisfaction survey, reporting that its findings were “encouraging”, but noting that it also showed access to high-quality care is not equally distributed across England.

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