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Burnham will fight plans for regional NHS pay

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The Liberal Democrats have voted overwhelmingly to halt any expansion of regional pay in the public sector.

The motion, passed following a 45-minute debate at last week's party conference in Brighton, warned local pay deals could adversely affect areas with lower incomes and could lead to a 'brain drain' as more skilled or experienced public sector workers moved to higher paying area.

However, the vote is not binding on the UK government.

Meanwhile, shadow health secretary Andy Burnham labelled the government's pay agenda an attempt to 'whittle away' staff terms and conditions.

In an exclusive editorial for Independent Nurse's sister title The British Journal of Nursing, Mr Burnham said regional pay would be a 'kick in the teeth' for NHS staff.

'The deputy prime minister Nick Clegg is in denial about so-called 'regional pay' in the NHS and has told staff it isn't happening. Yet out-going health secretary Andrew Lansley responded warmly to [chancellor of the exchequer] George Osborne's calls for public sector pay to be docked to match that of private firms, for fear the private sector would be "crowded out".

He continued:'But while the coalition fails to agree on regional pay, there are signs it is beginning to take hold in the NHS. Neither Lansley, nor Hunt, stood up for NHS staff, when it was revealed 20 trusts in the south west had formed a cartel with the aim of driving through regional pay.'

'The secretary of state should intervene to overrule the south west's challenge to the authority of the government,' he concluded.

'If he fails to act, Jeremy Hunt should prepare for a battle with staff, unions and the Labour Party.'

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