Nurses won't get money for Christmas party this year

Banbury Cake: Julie Waldron Julie Waldron

A HEALTH trust that gave its chief executive a pay rise while other staff salaries were frozen has axed Christmas party funds for hundreds of nurses.

About 717 staff working at community hospitals across Oxfordshire had previously been offered a donation of up to £35 each towards a Christmas party as a thank-you.

But this year the money has been taken away for the first time.

The news comes after the Oxford Mail revealed Julie Waldron, the former chief executive of the trust who was responsible for overseeing the cuts and was in charge when the decision was made to cut the Christmas payments, saw her salary band increased from £160,000-£165,000 to £165,000- £170,000.

She was this month replaced by Stuart Bell. His salary band was not available last night.

Community Health Oxfordshire, which runs community hospitals and outreach services, and the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Mental Health Trust (OBMH) merged last year.

The new joint trust is called the Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust.

It has outlined £52m of cuts over the next five years from all of its services – including staffing costs – and workers are on an NHS-wide pay freeze.

It is also currently consulting with nurses on bringing in a new longer shift of 12 hours to ‘increase efficiency’.

A spokesman for the new organisation said the decision to scrap the Christmas party payments was approved by their charitable funds committee in April and would come into force this Christmas.

She said: “When Oxford Health NHS FT and Community Health Oxfordshire integrated, work took place to ensure policies and guidelines were rationalised to ensure a consistent approach to charitable funds spending across the trust.

“In order for donated funds to retain their charitable status any expenditure must, whether directly or indirectly, provide patient benefit.

“The Charitable Funds Committee considers that expenditure on staff Christmas parties or other staff social events or entertaining does not normally provide sufficient patient benefit and is not the most efficient or effective way of applying available funds to provide patient benefit.

“Given the limited funds available to Oxford Health Charitable Funds, the decision has been taken that no expenditure of this kind may be funded.”

Previously, staff at the OBMH have received a token gift such as a box of chocolates for Christmas, but a decision on whether this will continue has not yet been taken.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said it was a “kick in the teeth” for nursing staff.

Patricia Marquis, South East regional director of the RCN, said: “This could be the final nail in the coffin. Nurses are telling us how demoralised they are.

“It has been one change after another, one consultation after another.

“Something as small as losing their Christmas donation for staff functions can have a real knock-on effect to team morale.

“To hear that the frontline workforce are having to make these sacrifices at a time of a national pay freeze and changes to pensions whilst managers get this pay rise is a real kick in the teeth for nurses and, quite frankly, a grossly insensitive move by the directors.”

Ian Mckendrick, spokesman for the Oxfordshire Unison union’s health branch, and an Oxford Health nurse, said: “To think that such a small token of appreciation at Christmas doesn’t get immeasurable rewards for patients in terms of having staff with good morale looking after them shows no understanding of what makes the NHS tick.

“Scrooge could learn a thing or two from these people.

“Perhaps the local NHS bosses could make up the shortfall from their incredible pay rises.”

The row comes as chief executive of Oxford University Hospitals Trust Sir Jonathan Michael – who saw his pay bracket go up from £210,000-£215,000 to £215,000-£220,000 last year – declined to discuss the issue.

Repeated requests by the Oxford Mail for an interview, asking why he accepted the rise at a time when other staff were on pay freezes and the trust was facing multi-million-pound cuts, have been refused.

Comments (16)

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9:31am Tue 23 Oct 12

Cathena says...

Happy nurses - with a Christmas party - would be better use of "funds to provide patient benefit." than senior salary increases.
Happy nurses - with a Christmas party - would be better use of "funds to provide patient benefit." than senior salary increases. Cathena

10:31am Tue 23 Oct 12

Dilligaf2010 says...

Cathena wrote:
Happy nurses - with a Christmas party - would be better use of "funds to provide patient benefit." than senior salary increases.
I completely agree, I recently had a stay in the JR, one of the shifts worked by the nurses was 14 hours a day, for 7 days straight, obviously they work shorter shifts too, but their pay scales peaked at £27,000 a year.
Frankly I'm disgusted, I was earning more than that 12 years ago, they should be on far more for the work they do, the ones caring for me were absolute angels, always seemed to be on the go, and nothing too much trouble.
Sir Jonathan Michael could probably cover the cost of a Christmas party from the loose change in his sock drawer.
[quote][p][bold]Cathena[/bold] wrote: Happy nurses - with a Christmas party - would be better use of "funds to provide patient benefit." than senior salary increases.[/p][/quote]I completely agree, I recently had a stay in the JR, one of the shifts worked by the nurses was 14 hours a day, for 7 days straight, obviously they work shorter shifts too, but their pay scales peaked at £27,000 a year. Frankly I'm disgusted, I was earning more than that 12 years ago, they should be on far more for the work they do, the ones caring for me were absolute angels, always seemed to be on the go, and nothing too much trouble. Sir Jonathan Michael could probably cover the cost of a Christmas party from the loose change in his sock drawer. Dilligaf2010

10:32am Tue 23 Oct 12

snert says...

Cathena. While I would agree that it would be a better use of funds to provide nurses with a Christmas party than to increase senior salaries if you look at almost every other industry, private or public sector, salaries are frozen for the masses and bosses salaries are increased or bonuses given.

How much would a party for several hundred or several thousand nurses cost? A lot.

The problem these days is that most companies, private and public are largely being run by the accountants/bean counters these days who don't necessarily know what is best for the company; they just look at what is cheapest.
Cathena. While I would agree that it would be a better use of funds to provide nurses with a Christmas party than to increase senior salaries if you look at almost every other industry, private or public sector, salaries are frozen for the masses and bosses salaries are increased or bonuses given. How much would a party for several hundred or several thousand nurses cost? A lot. The problem these days is that most companies, private and public are largely being run by the accountants/bean counters these days who don't necessarily know what is best for the company; they just look at what is cheapest. snert

10:50am Tue 23 Oct 12

Mark L. says...

"It is also currently consulting with nurses on bringing in a new longer shift of 12 hours to ‘increase efficiency’."

as I have said before, my wife has been working 7am -8pm for over a year now. She was not given any say, despite having been nursing for 27 years. Part of the reason for leaving.
As for Christmas parties. She is usually working, and if not she pays for her food and drink herself.
"It is also currently consulting with nurses on bringing in a new longer shift of 12 hours to ‘increase efficiency’." as I have said before, my wife has been working 7am -8pm for over a year now. She was not given any say, despite having been nursing for 27 years. Part of the reason for leaving. As for Christmas parties. She is usually working, and if not she pays for her food and drink herself. Mark L.

11:10am Tue 23 Oct 12

CLLR KEN TIWARI says...

Dear Libbo's in government, how could you expect Christmas-party, when-Lib-Dam Are the Runners of our Government ? (the selfinterested bunch of Libbo's).......
Dear Libbo's in government, how could you expect Christmas-party, when-Lib-Dam Are the Runners of our Government ? (the selfinterested bunch of Libbo's)....... CLLR KEN TIWARI

12:28pm Tue 23 Oct 12

Geoff Roberts says...

snert wrote:
Cathena. While I would agree that it would be a better use of funds to provide nurses with a Christmas party than to increase senior salaries if you look at almost every other industry, private or public sector, salaries are frozen for the masses and bosses salaries are increased or bonuses given.

How much would a party for several hundred or several thousand nurses cost? A lot.

The problem these days is that most companies, private and public are largely being run by the accountants/bean counters these days who don't necessarily know what is best for the company; they just look at what is cheapest.
I'm not sure that it's correct that most companies, private and public are largely being run by the accountants/bean counters. The problem is much more deep rooted than than.

What this is all about ultimately is cost cutting and the decisions are frequently made by management who have no experience of managing a companies in the times we face. As far as private companies go it's a case of cutting costs by cutting jobs but at the same time attempting to save their share of the market or increase it by attempting to fix problems by making the remaining staff do more. This in turn inevitably leads to a risk to quality and then you have a conflict between cutting costs and increasing quality. Cutting is more important and it will win. Those making the decisions will feel the strain less, those on the shop floor will feel the strain badly and not be listened to.
[quote][p][bold]snert[/bold] wrote: Cathena. While I would agree that it would be a better use of funds to provide nurses with a Christmas party than to increase senior salaries if you look at almost every other industry, private or public sector, salaries are frozen for the masses and bosses salaries are increased or bonuses given. How much would a party for several hundred or several thousand nurses cost? A lot. The problem these days is that most companies, private and public are largely being run by the accountants/bean counters these days who don't necessarily know what is best for the company; they just look at what is cheapest.[/p][/quote]I'm not sure that it's correct that most companies, private and public are largely being run by the accountants/bean counters. The problem is much more deep rooted than than. What this is all about ultimately is cost cutting and the decisions are frequently made by management who have no experience of managing a companies in the times we face. As far as private companies go it's a case of cutting costs by cutting jobs but at the same time attempting to save their share of the market or increase it by attempting to fix problems by making the remaining staff do more. This in turn inevitably leads to a risk to quality and then you have a conflict between cutting costs and increasing quality. Cutting is more important and it will win. Those making the decisions will feel the strain less, those on the shop floor will feel the strain badly and not be listened to. Geoff Roberts

12:31pm Tue 23 Oct 12

Geoff Roberts says...

a) somehow shrink your business so that your employees can maintain or improve quality.
b) Employ more people and accept a loss in profit as a result.
c) Find non existent software or machinery to automate jobs in order to cut costs in employing people (this fails every time)
d) Continue with the current unsustainable situation, in conflict, until everything breaks down and your staff go on strike.

This may not help the NHS though but it's still a similar problem.
a) somehow shrink your business so that your employees can maintain or improve quality. b) Employ more people and accept a loss in profit as a result. c) Find non existent software or machinery to automate jobs in order to cut costs in employing people (this fails every time) d) Continue with the current unsustainable situation, in conflict, until everything breaks down and your staff go on strike. This may not help the NHS though but it's still a similar problem. Geoff Roberts

12:37pm Tue 23 Oct 12

Geoff Roberts says...

If your costs to serve are too great, the equipment you need is too expensive yet your staff could be underpaid then there is not much that can be done other than cut pay, cut jobs and make people work more.

Look at the police, the quality of policing is dire quite frankly. Take enforcing speed limits, the speed guns cost thousands of pounds. The police have no power to find cheaper equipment therefore if they are to enforce speed limits they will need to cut costs elsewhere yet police computer systems, buildings and so on are already in poor condition.

What we have is a bigger picture, a system that is flawed, that is completely unsustainable.
If your costs to serve are too great, the equipment you need is too expensive yet your staff could be underpaid then there is not much that can be done other than cut pay, cut jobs and make people work more. Look at the police, the quality of policing is dire quite frankly. Take enforcing speed limits, the speed guns cost thousands of pounds. The police have no power to find cheaper equipment therefore if they are to enforce speed limits they will need to cut costs elsewhere yet police computer systems, buildings and so on are already in poor condition. What we have is a bigger picture, a system that is flawed, that is completely unsustainable. Geoff Roberts

1:10pm Tue 23 Oct 12

Andrew:Oxford says...

It's quite clear from the story that the £35 per head in previous years doesn't come from state or tax but donated funds.

If you are a trustee, it must be really hard to justify spending money on food and drink for an annual staff jolly when the money could be used for buying equipment - which is what most people think of when they donate or sponsor to raise money for a hospital.

Perhaps the nursing staff of Oxfordshire should start a new charitable fund exclusively for their Christmas party?

That way, when people are donating - they know for sure it is to bring pleasure to the people who cared for them.
It's quite clear from the story that the £35 per head in previous years doesn't come from state or tax but donated funds. If you are a trustee, it must be really hard to justify spending money on food and drink for an annual staff jolly when the money could be used for buying equipment - which is what most people think of when they donate or sponsor to raise money for a hospital. Perhaps the nursing staff of Oxfordshire should start a new charitable fund exclusively for their Christmas party? That way, when people are donating - they know for sure it is to bring pleasure to the people who cared for them. Andrew:Oxford

1:49pm Tue 23 Oct 12

danfoxford says...

It's also clear that the pay rise for each executive director of those trusts would pay for a Christmas party for 142 staff, upgrade needed equipment, or even more importantly provide 20% of the salary of a nurse to support understaffed wards.

By my reckoning, an entire ward could be staffed just from their pay rises while the salaries for the nurses handling this workload have been frozen for three years.

We are confronting a false dilemma that the NHS, an organisation which provides essential public services, is unsustainable and must be cut, while money was found to bail out bankers who didn't even have to forgo their bonuses.
It's also clear that the pay rise for each executive director of those trusts would pay for a Christmas party for 142 staff, upgrade needed equipment, or even more importantly provide 20% of the salary of a nurse to support understaffed wards. By my reckoning, an entire ward could be staffed just from their pay rises while the salaries for the nurses handling this workload have been frozen for three years. We are confronting a false dilemma that the NHS, an organisation which provides essential public services, is unsustainable and must be cut, while money was found to bail out bankers who didn't even have to forgo their bonuses. danfoxford

4:06pm Tue 23 Oct 12

Victor's_friend says...

Now then now then guess a hug at Christmas is free, but given the current turmoil that may be mis-construed or worse. Can't even sit on Santa's knee. What's this life coming to?
Now then now then guess a hug at Christmas is free, but given the current turmoil that may be mis-construed or worse. Can't even sit on Santa's knee. What's this life coming to? Victor's_friend

4:57pm Tue 23 Oct 12

King Joke says...

A few years ago Birmingham City Council rebranded Christmas shopping in the city centre as 'Winterval' to try and broaden its appeal to people from other cultures, who make up a fair propotion of Brummies. THe right-wing press had a field-day, and for a few years picked on any local authority not seen to be celebrating Christmas enthusiastically enough.

Now that Christmas actually is being cancelled for thousands of public sector workers - I suspect this has happened more than just in Oxford - you don't hear a peep. I wonder why?
A few years ago Birmingham City Council rebranded Christmas shopping in the city centre as 'Winterval' to try and broaden its appeal to people from other cultures, who make up a fair propotion of Brummies. THe right-wing press had a field-day, and for a few years picked on any local authority not seen to be celebrating Christmas enthusiastically enough. Now that Christmas actually is being cancelled for thousands of public sector workers - I suspect this has happened more than just in Oxford - you don't hear a peep. I wonder why? King Joke

5:20pm Tue 23 Oct 12

cuckoo says...

I'm certain that many grateful patients donate money to the ward/department they recieved treatment in as a thank you to the staff.....(the staff are not allowed to take money directly/personally)
..... I'm also certain that most donating would only be too happy that the money went, in some part, to subsidising a christmas party. If not, they only have to specify exactly what they wish said donation to purchase/contribute to!!
I'm certain that many grateful patients donate money to the ward/department they recieved treatment in as a thank you to the staff.....(the staff are not allowed to take money directly/personally) ..... I'm also certain that most donating would only be too happy that the money went, in some part, to subsidising a christmas party. If not, they only have to specify exactly what they wish said donation to purchase/contribute to!! cuckoo

2:14am Wed 24 Oct 12

riman09 says...

Typical of these selfish executives, whose mantra is always that 'we are in this together'!

Sounds familiar, eh?
Typical of these selfish executives, whose mantra is always that 'we are in this together'! Sounds familiar, eh? riman09

9:24am Wed 24 Oct 12

Skippy 2 says...

Nurses do not want money that patients and relatives donate for the benefit of the patient but many people give money specifically to be used for the nurses eg Xmas party. Nurses never see that money. To be honest, if people want to give something for the nurses now we tell them not to bother or give it to the league of friends because any money donated to charitable funds just goes into a big pot and we never see it. I am intrigued at the £35 pounds mentioned because I work in a community hospital and we got £10 at Christmas
Nurses do not want money that patients and relatives donate for the benefit of the patient but many people give money specifically to be used for the nurses eg Xmas party. Nurses never see that money. To be honest, if people want to give something for the nurses now we tell them not to bother or give it to the league of friends because any money donated to charitable funds just goes into a big pot and we never see it. I am intrigued at the £35 pounds mentioned because I work in a community hospital and we got £10 at Christmas Skippy 2

9:32pm Wed 24 Oct 12

Skippy 2 says...

Oxford Health want to save £52000000 pounds over next 5 years They are forcing staff to work 13hour shifts and 6 shifts over 5 days they are also making people do night shift when they don't want to. Out of the money saved they are creating 3 band 8 manager jobs!!!! They are only going to save £660000 pounds a year. They will lose all the goodwill they currently have from staff. I worked 6 years night shift but can't do it now. Director of nursing said people who have a reason won't have to do it but is that not discriminating against people who don't have an excuse but who feel they cannot do it. Many of my colleagues are looking for alternative employment as am I.
Oxford Health want to save £52000000 pounds over next 5 years They are forcing staff to work 13hour shifts and 6 shifts over 5 days they are also making people do night shift when they don't want to. Out of the money saved they are creating 3 band 8 manager jobs!!!! They are only going to save £660000 pounds a year. They will lose all the goodwill they currently have from staff. I worked 6 years night shift but can't do it now. Director of nursing said people who have a reason won't have to do it but is that not discriminating against people who don't have an excuse but who feel they cannot do it. Many of my colleagues are looking for alternative employment as am I. Skippy 2

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